Kettlebells and yoga?? Exercise Guide To Lose Weight is proud to introduce a new partner – a rising fitness star from the West Coast, Grace Menendez!
Grace brings with her a wealth of knowledge, energy and enthusiasm, and she has a style that's all her own. Grace is a yoga instructor, a certified Kettlebell instructor, a Progressive Calisthenics Instructor AND a licensed massage therapist.
Grace will be a regular contributor of insightful fitness and weight loss articles as well as workout videos. She will also be adding fun workouts to our soon-coming section, where we will be adding an ever growing list of workouts, including routines: for the gym, with kettlebells, bodyweight, yoga and combinations of it all!
To introduce this ball of fire to you, I’ve done a short interview with Grace that you can read here…
Where are you from, where do live now?
I was born in Miami, Florida and moved to Los Angeles in 2007!
When it comes to fitness, what is your passion?
I believe that movement is medicine and fitness is not just a privilege for the elite, it is an integral part of being a healthy human!
I want to educate people about how important it is to move on a daily basis and that fitness is accessible to you always!
You don't need a fancy gym membership, just your own body-weight and you're a force unto yourself! There's something very liberating and empowering about accepting this knowledge! It puts the power of regaining your mobility and health back into your hands!
How long have you been practicing yoga?
Yoga was my first introduction back into movement after a long hiatus between high school and my early 20's when I wasn't training at all. I started practicing at home in 2010.
When did you start teaching yoga?
I was hooked on my practice almost immediately after taking my first outdoor Yoga class at Runyon Canyon Park in Hollywood. Shortly after, I signed up for a teacher training in 2011 at Dancing Shiva, and it was one of the best decisions I've made in my life! Now, I have the honor of teaching at the same park that inspired me to become a teacher!
When did you start using kettlebells?
My first introduction to kettlebells was actually at a Crossfit gym. After about a year of training Crossfit, I bought my own set and began practicing on my own, watching RKC instructional videos on youtube!
Don't you have a certification as a kettlebell instructor?
Yes! I received my Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification just last year through Dragondoor and currently am training for the Russian Kettlebell Challenge this July!
What is it that you like about yoga?
I find that practicing just a few times a week can bring you peace of mind!
Yoga asanas (poses) are wonderful for strengthening and removing stagnant energy from the body.
The philosophy behind it outlines techniques for calming the mind by allowing the opportunity for introspection and relaxation.
Beyond the physical postures, Pranayama, or conscious breathing and the emphasis on the appreciation of the present moment are so essential for leading a healthy life! I feel everyone can benefit from a regular practice as a way of combatting stress and improving mobility.
I have also used Yoga as a tool to rehabilitate my Sciatica!
What is it that you like about kettlebells?
I love that they are so easy to travel with so you can train anywhere, even outdoors! The versatility of the exercises with a collection of just a few bells can give you so much bang for your buck!
I love that they are "skilled" exercises that need to be studied and practiced in order to use them correctly.
The hardstyle breathing techniques taken from Karate, remind me of a lot of the breathwork from Yoga, and not many other fitness modalities really emphasize the importance of breathing "behind the shield" to maximize benefit from each repetition and minimize potential of injury!
It also helped rehabilitate my back by strengthening my entire posterior chain and definitely made me excel at my Yoga practice! Yoga and the bells compliment each other so well! The principles of controlling tension and relaxation are essentially the same!
What other health/wellness services do you provide?
I am also a certified Massage Therapist!
I integrate a lot of Yoga therapy into my sessions as well as prescribe my clients exercises from both Yoga and Calisthenics to rehabilitate their own injuries/areas of tension.
I love studying the body! Anatomy and Kinesiology, the study of how the body moves, fascinate me!
There's so much we can learn from self-study and I love to educate my clients on their own movement potential since a lot of massage pathologies tend to come from being sedentary and a lack of spatial awareness, or proprioception.
You also just got certified in Progressive Calisthenics - what has that done for you?
PCC was such a remarkable experience because I got the opportunity to connect and network with amazing trainers and like-minded people who have the same idea: Working out should be fun!
It was a beautiful thing witnessing all these adults of mixed-levels and backgrounds rolling around on the ground, climbing, inverting, and just overall enthused about movement!
I made a lot of great connections (like you!) that will hopefully turn into some big collaborative efforts in the future.
The certification just gave me more confidence and drive to want to reach more people and teach them about how exercise doesn't have to be monotonous or boring again!
Practicing Calisthenics gives you the freedom to train anywhere and allows you to be creative with your training while still getting buff!
What is it you are working on now?
I'm really excited for the opportunity to contribute video tutorials and fitness advice to this site!
I'm working on expanding my Calisthenics bootcamp classes across L.A. public parks as well as working on a Kettlebell-Yoga hybrid program and an E-book geared towards Calisthenics for Women.
What is it that you ultimately want to accomplish?
Ultimately, I just want to continue teaching and educating people about their movement potential!
I would love to travel around the world teaching workshops and continue to evolve in my own calisthenics practice! Still working on my handstands all day, every day!
You mentioned to me earlier how yoga can help you lose weight - how does that work?
Well, just like a lot of other fitness modalities out there, you need to be consistent with your practice and it needs to be progressive.
Your Yoga foundation should definitely be solid before entering any other advanced classes, so get the basics down first, i.e. Sun Salutation A and B and then begin to challenge yourself with practicing arm balances and such and going for longer and longer holds as well as practicing regularly minimum 3x's per week for weight loss.
And kettlebells can also be used to lose weight, right?
Definitely! The Swing is such a stellar exercise for linking and working both the posterior and anterior chains of the body. It is like doing a giant and more efficient "sit-up."
A lot of trainers I feel don't really teach it often because it is still a skill-based exercise and can be frustrating to explain it, but it is such an empowering movement once you (and client) get it down.
And most importantly it is FUN! Heck, I am still learning something new every time I pick up a bell and swing!
If you were to do nothing but between 100-300 swings a day, for about a month with an appropriate sized bell, I guarantee you would see some results! In addition to eating a clean and balanced diet would take your body to next-level status for sure!
I think you have a lot of energy and knowledge to share! Other than teaching classes in-person, have you considered making any courses or DVD's that people can access all over the country - and world? I think there are a lot of people out there that would love to learn yoga and kettlebell moves from you in the comfort of their own home.
Why thank you! Yes, I am super excited for expanding beyond personal training and breaking out into a more media-based market so that I could reach more people!
Fusion training is definitely the way of the future, especially for people who can easily get bored with their workouts, and Yoga and Kettlebells are practically Yin and Yang.
I am currently working on designing some hybrid programs between the two and hopefully collaborating with you on some more video tutorials, too! It is definitely an exciting time!
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