Class Review: Booty by Brabants at BFX Studio

The BFX Studio Back Bay location

When I learned that the same people who own Boston Sports Club were opening a super sexy gym called BFX Studio in Boston (there are already 2 locations in NYC), I immediately added it to my must-try list.

I’m so glad I finally had the chance to experience the studio in person. BFX has an awesome feel. The staff at the front desk was incredibly kind and eager to talk about the offerings. Initially, I thought he was just a good sales man, but it became more apparent the more we spoke that he was really just passionate about BFX. The space is super clean and chic. A small shop lines a wall in the reception area, and stairs lead you to active areas. I only explored the downstairs area, which features rooms for private training, master classes (taught by an instructor), and ride republic (a new take on spinning). Additionally, it offers gorgeous locker rooms with impressive (read: clean) showers and changing space.

While there, I attended a Booty by Brabants class at 6:30pm. The instructor is Kelly Brabants, who seems to be building a small empire with her workout collection of the same name. Kelly, who has been dancing for as long as she can remember, seems to want nothing more than to ensure you have fun while helping you transform your body. The 1 hour class uses a resistance band, gliders, and a mat, and spares no one, starting with a pretty brutal “warm up” (read: work out). The warmup primes you for what turned into learning and completing 3 full dance routines with a few burpees in-between (ouch).

What I appreciated the most was that Kelly put in work too – squatting, lunging, crunching, plie-ing and sweating right alongside us. She was eager to get us dancing, and genuinely wanted to see us succeed. You could flail at every move (like me) and she’d still beam at you and tell you that you look gorgeous. Her positive reinforcement made the class a total joy.

I haven’t felt my body react to the gym in this way since I used to have an epic trainer back in NYC – a sign that Booty by Brabants is a bad ass workout that should certainly be experienced by all and repeated by many.

BFX Studio is located in Back Bay at 699 Boylston Street just around the corner from the Copley T station.
Booty by Brabants is taught across the Boston area, but you can register for this class the BFX website.

*Disclaimer: The class was complementary thanks to an ad in the Improper Bostonian, but I have chosen to write this review by choice.


Chicken soup for the polar vortex (or soul, whichever)

It’s straight up winter, y’all. That means it’s going to snow, you’re going to hear the term “polar vortex” way more than you’d like, you’re going to get the sniffles and a sore throat, and you’re going to want something cozy and comforting to gobble up.

The cozy and comforting thing is most important, and is also what I loved most about this homemade chicken soup recipe. Adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s website, I made this to help ease a cold. Plus, I’d just come back from visiting family and wanted something that tasted like home too. This definitely fit the bill.

I have to admit, I haven’t always been a fan of chicken soup. It has a lot to do with hating those hopeless middle school bowls of the soup with the awful goopy noodles that never keep their shape growing up (who knew that middle school cafeteria lunch would help me become the food snob I am today). But this homemade version (with no noodles!) is just the cat’s pajamas.

chicken soup, polar vortex, homemade


Thoughts on moving on and getting over it

break ups, heartbreak, gorgeous views, sunsets, single girl

Break ups are horrible – they hurt and hurt until you don’t think you can hurt anymore… and then they hurt again. And what’s worse? The pressure to “get over it” – to forget someone you hoped was a forever love and to move on.


Thankful.

just smile, nike, view from where i stand, boots, louis vuitton

Thanksgiving (for me) in previous years was about a glutinous meal with too much wine and pie and lazing around and prepping my shopping list for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It wasn’t always about being thankful for life or family or employment and blessings. 

This year, my holiday weekend was spent eating a turkey dinner from a hospital cafeteria with my parents by my side in the ICU as I battled the scariest health trauma I’ve dealt with so far. Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went, as did the five days I was in the hospital, praying for the “small things” I often take for granted like fresh air, or my health or the ability to remove my heart monitor so I could feel the patter of a warm shower on my chest. I was admitted on Wednesday evening and discharged on Monday evening with two prescriptions that were more than just medication but hopefully a ticket to a full recovery.

So this year, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for family and friends and warm wishes for a quick recovery. I’m thankful for amazing doctors that pulled the weekend shift (sorry about your thanksgivings, but not sorry you helped save me). I’m thankful to be alive (not just healthy). I’m thankful.

just smile, nike, view from where i stand, boots, louis vuitton


Proceed with caution. Or don’t.

I often refuse to skip or run and watch my step very closely on the sidewalk, especially when it’s cold and there’s black ice to slip on. When you fall as a child it’s easier to get back up because you don’t fall too far and Mom or Dad always have your back (or the back of your shirt to help you get up). When you fall as an adult, you must check every surface for bruising yourself because Mom or Dad are in another city. Then you go to the doctor to double-check you didn’t injure yourself in a hidden place only visible by x-ray or a doctor’s kind hands. You check for injuries in a place you can’t see, like your ribs or a hairline ankle fracture or even your heart.

break up, upsetting, upset, head down, heartbroken

To self-protect, especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to use caution around certain situations and people and places and things. Well, that is until I did everything I was scared of for love, including skipping and running and falling and getting back up. I loved. Not just loved but loved. Greatly – and it set me free and turned me inside out and upside down like a rag doll. It opened me up to lessons and changes and a whole lot of self-revelation. It also made me vulnerable to real feelings because relationships are hard and sometimes you hurt the people you love and the ones that love you hurt you back. I carry tissues in my purse just in case the wounds re-open and my tears run as freely as my love. You’re not a true New York woman until you’ve cried on the train.

But… It feels good to love with abandon and to run and skip and hop and fall and realize you can get back up and try again. And it takes practice to aggressively love after skinned knees and cracked ribs. You have to learn to stretch your muscles after a workout including your heart, the muscle that keeps us alive (love keeps us alive).

So love on, my friends. Love on.


The Non-New Yorker’s Guide to Autumn in NYC

I am someone that declares a love for each new season passionately. Winter is cozy and comforting, springtime is hopeful and new, summer is raunchy and exciting, and autumn… well damn. Autumn’s just perfect. I’d heard New Yorkers declare “autumn in New York” as the ultimate in season/city combinations, but in experiencing it myself, I think it’s even better as a someone who isn’t a native.

There are a number of reasons why, five of which I’ve outlined below but all start with this: growing up in the suburbs means I have a license and can drive to some of these great destinations. Don’t have a license? No sweat, my friend Dushane got one in 2 weeks and then tore up the streets of LA. If he can do it, anyone can. Still not convinced? Then get real creative with public transportation, my friend.

A photo posted by Maiah (@maiahalyse) on

So, without further ado, here’s a list of amazing places to visit in and around New York when the seasons change from hot to cool and the leaves set the trees afire with color:

GANTRY STATE PARK
While it’s still tolerable to be outside, the best place to be is in a park, any park, but especially Gantry State Park in Long Island City while the sun is setting over Manhattan. It’s the home of the Pepsi Cola sign that lights up my favorite late night drive home from an event. In the summer time, it’s nearly impossible to find a place to spread out a fall blanket, but when the seasons change and people rush to get home before dark, this place is perfect.
Gantry State Park, 4-09 47th Rd, Long Island City, NY 11101

STORM KING ART CENTER
I found my way to Storm King this spring with My Honey. We totally lost our cool, getting quickly winded trying to run up close to sculptures or dodge bees. We barely scratched the surface with so much to see and only an afternoon on foot to see it. We’ve vowed to go again and fall seems the perfect time to do so. We’ll likely splurge on the trolly tour to see as much as possible, and I’ll consider sneaking a flask of something fun for a little surprise.
Storm King Art Center, 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY 12553

QUEENS COUNTY FARM
I found out about Queens County Farm in September, right when the air starts to change and you’re able to wear your boots guilt-free. We went for a classic Motorcycle show and realized this place has so much to offer. Always wanted to explore a Maize Maze? Cause I have and this place has one!
Queens County Farm, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Glen Oaks, NY 11004

BROOKLYN FLEA
Nothing says love like shopping, good company, and incredible food. With a myriad of vendors to choose from, you’ll find anything from jewelry to vintage records to furniture in the shops. When it comes time to eat, my booth of choice is Red Hook Lobster Pound for the best lobster roll in NYC. Sure, visiting the Brooklyn Flea year round is fun, but there’s something even more magical about it when the market moves inside to One Hanson Place.
Brooklyn Flea, visit website for locations

ATLANTIC CITY
A company retreat last year brought me to Revel in Atlantic City. This is a perfect city escape when you want to indulge yourself completely. The hotel is stunning and practically a city itself (you could never leave the grounds and hardly miss fresh air). With a casino, spa, and restaurants inside, what more could a girl ask for in a weekend getaway?
Revel Casino & Hotel, 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401


Dockers takes Soho, NY with the Dockers General Store

Last week, San Francisco based Dockers opened a temporary store in lower Manhattan called the Dockers General Store. From the moment you walk inside you’re transported from the hustle of being near Canal Street thanks to music makes you want to move to California and take up a whole new lifestyle.

Dockers Popup Store in Soho NYC


How To Survive A Shopping Freeze

I’m pretty sure that my mother would laugh uncontrollably if I told her friends were approaching me on how to successfully execute a shopping freeze. I don’t really blame her either. We call shopping “fieldwork” and every visit home is bookmarked by a trip to Nordstrom Rack or the Wrentham Outlets.

Since participating in my own personal shopping freeze (which was successful, thank you very much), I’ve found myself putting the below practices into use in my every-day life. Here are 4 tips for you to get through your own freeze:

Avoid Bestie Shopping Trips
When have you ever gone shopping with your friends and not bought something just because your bestie did? Okay, perhaps that’s just me and I’m a little weak when it comes to shopping, but if I’m in shoe heaven (aka DSW) and my friend is buying shoes, I am too. So, avoid joint shopping trips and find other ways to spend time catching up. If you simply must shop with her, do everything in your power to avoid eye-contact with shoes.

Get Hip with GMail Filters
If you can’t bring yourself to unsubscribe from flash sites and e-blasts (I certainly couldn’t) then install a rule that makes those emails bypass your inbox. My girl Lauren over at Everyday to Runway taught me this and changed my life. I’ve saved a tremendous (or horrendous) amount of money by not being tempted to “browse” flash sale sites. Sure, I might have missed out on the Jack Rogers sale on Rue La La, but my wallet is thanking me. For directions on how to set up your filter, visit this article. You’ll thank me.

Buy with Purpose
I guarantee you will not miss those trendy Steve Madden super tall wedge platform booties with the studs & plaid accents when you’re walking down Madison Ave in a gorgeous pair of Coach riding boots scored on sale at T.J.Maxx. Not only do the look good but they get better with age (because good leather is like good wine). Start purchasing with the goal of filling your adult-Barbie dream closet.

Rethink Your Spending Habits
I am no one to judge how one chooses to spend their money because I’m certainly no saint in the “proper” spending department. That said, I’ve started spending my money on experiences like a trip to Puerto Rico or a ZipCar for a day away at Storm King Arts Center. I suppose it’s an investment in living, which feels pretty damn fun.

What about you? Any other tips you might suggest?
Good luck!

Thrilled to share my third piece on Loop21.com. Enjoy!


The Shopping Freeze: How I gave up shopping for lent

I’m not ashamed to say I love to shop. So much so that when I heard Carrie Bradshaw shout from the balcony of her non-smoking Los Angeles hotel, “I have an addiction, sir!” I thought to myself, me too!

I wouldn’t say my shopping was getting out of hand like some horror stories I’ve heard. However, after the 3rd purchase of Mexican glassware in a week (I collect it, just like my mother) I figured I had nothing to lose by giving up the plastic for the month.

It wasn’t easy, but I’ve come away with a few tips on how to get through it for anyone considering a shopping freeze of their own:

Announce your freeze
When I made the decision to stop shopping for lent there was no going back. To make sure I walked the walk, I announced the freeze to my colleagues, friends, and family. Sort of in the same way you declare on Twitter that you’re “working it out in the gym” making this announcement helps hold you accountable for sticking it through to the end.

Don’t torture yourself & don’t be tempted
One of my favorite post-work pastimes is browsing the racks at the stores that line Broadway on my way to the N train. However, that also opens the door for saying things like “I’ll just try it on” and “I’ll only buy 1 things instead of 2”. Find other things to fill your time with and other ways to clear your mind. Mine fell under the categories of food, beers, and boyfriend.

Gather a support group, but don’t trust them
Everyone needs a little support, regardless of the endeavor. I found strength in talking to my mother about not shopping together. That said, after my mother called me one day to tell me she bought a cashmere sweater (because it was on sale and what’s a girl to do), I knew I had no one but myself in this cold, hard world.

Enter back into the shopping world, one purchase at a time
A trip to the outlets over Easter weekend proved to be overwhelming but my little experiment worked. I was more focused on price and good value, and didn’t buy what I couldn’t live without.

I know I’ll sound like a PSA, but I have to admit, the shopping freeze heightened my understanding of what’s important. I realized there wasn’t anything I couldn’t live without besides my family, friends, and loved ones. A knowledge like that is priceless to me.

What have you given up that’s changed your outlook?


When I Was Young

Dad, Maiah, and Mom
When I was young I didn’t have a care in the world. I suppose that’s the charm of being a kid; your biggest concern is when Blue’s Clues is coming on and wondering how many green polo shirts Steve had in his closet.

When I was young I went to Kingsbury Hill Riding Camp. I was fearless when it came to the horses, to making friends, and making memories. I fell in love with the meanest horse, and proudly proclaimed my summers were filled with horses, flies, and shoveling poop. I didn’t care if someone turned their nose up at those attributes to my summer, and perhaps not caring is a perk of being young.

When I was young I loved to swim. I learned to swim in a pool with my grandma, who took me to my swimming lessons at the Y. Growing up summering on Martha’s Vineyard meant that I loved the ocean. I loved the beach. I loved sand in my hair, bathing suit, and between my toes.

When I was young I loved to talk on the phone. My first “boyfriend” used to call me after 9pm, which was a huge no-no in my house; he had to call before 8. Regardless, we would talk for hours and hours about nothing and everything. We would talk until one of us fell asleep and we would say things like: “I’m looking at the same stars you are,” and that was all we needed. I suppose that’s the simplicity of youth in dating.

There is such beauty in the simplicity of being young. As I approach my 30’s, I find myself returning to that carefree mindset that we lose quite abruptly as we navigate our teens and early 20’s. Things I loved turned to things I hated in an effort to be cool during my most turbulent years. Now, as I embrace being older, I’m embracing not giving a fuck. It’s liberating, and just as exciting as being 11 and waiting for the mail to come on Blue’s Clues.