Totally called it.

building a nest 

The Pilot woke up, saw that the birds were still failing miserably at their nest attempts, so he built them a nest platform.

Cribs, bird-style:

nest crib

He did a good deed, and I think it’s for our benefit, too… I would be traumatized if the baby birds fell out and crashed onto the porch.

While he was outside building, Livi and I were inside making a baby meal to take over to a friend’s house.


(wrote all of the ingredients out with my chicken scratch)

They’re Paleo, and while I was kind of nervous to make something they might like, it was easy to find Paleo-friendly recipes in my usual rotation. (Random: whenever I think of the word “Paleo,” I say it in my head like “Rufio” from the movie Hook. “Paleo! Paleo! Paleooooooooooo!”)

Massaged kale salad

kale salad4

Turkey burgers with baked sweet potatoes

sp and burgers

The burgers were grilled by the Pilot, featuring one of my all-time favorite ingredients:


plus an apple crisp.

apple crisp

We made extra extra of everything so that dinner would be ready for the Pilot to take with him to work –he flew late- and I enjoyed a Pilot-grilled feast even when he wasn’t home 🙂

The apple crisps turned out really well, and it was my first time baking with xylitol.


The size of the crystals in the bag was alarming, but it baked nicely and had a mild, sweet flavor. I love my xylitol gum (Spry!) but make sure to keep everything xlyitol in extra ziploc bags so a certain food thief can’t get into it… it’s extremely dangerous for dogs to consume.


Today I thought it would be fun to talk about motivation and ways to fill the silence during group fitness classes.

#1: Wear loud clothing.


(I walked down the stairs and the Pilot said “Now that’s just ridiculous.” haha)

I think we’ve all been there: you’re in a class and the energy is crazy, everyone is into it and excited and then… womp womp. It disappears into oblivion.

As an instructor, it SUCKS when this happens. You can feel it happening, and it’s really hard to bring it back up. Sometimes it’s the instructor, the music, technical difficulties, size/energy of the class- many factors can cause energy drainage.

Here are some of the ways I keep energy up and the class flowing:

1) Motivate. Remind them that they’re doing a great job and that before they know it, they’ll be eating lunch or in the car driving home. The class is temporary, the results are not.

2) Make up for what’s lacking. Not many students? Make it a point to learn their names during class so you can personalize what you’re saying. “Great form, Sarah! Keep it up” “John, I know you can pedal faster than that,” etc.

3) Appropriate volume. Sometimes yelling is necessary –in Zumba, yelling is a lot of fun- but there are times when silence is golden, like at the end of a very heavy climb in spin, let the loud music do the talking.

4) Focus on form and educate. Whenever I feel like I don’t have anything to say, I give form cues. “Make sure your shoulders are back and down away from your ears, abs are tight, focus on your breathing and exhale as you come up” … It’s a great way to motivate and also help participants practice body awareness. Educating is a great idea, too, by making sure everyone knows what muscle their working and the benefits of what they’re doing.

As far as bringing the energy back up as a participant, I love to yell or clap it out in certain classes, focus on bringing my own positive energy and just having fun with it, or very rarely, leaving. Sometimes it’s worth it to ditch out of a class if you think you’ll enjoy your own workout or another class more.

Have you ever experienced an energy slump during a fitness class? What happened? Have you ever left a class before it was over? I’ll never forget when “Hey There, Delilah” started playing in spin class. Those two should never be in the same sentence together.

I always love when instructors are extra motivational at the end of a workout, when the going gets tough and it’s easy to slack to the finish line. Chalene is a rock star at this.. she makes me finish the DVDs almost every time, even when I know what she’s going to say next 😉

Hope you have a happy Tuesday!

See ya later 🙂



Head’s up: My new favorite smoothie cups are on promo at OpenSky, if you’d like to check them out 🙂

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  1. Lisa on April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Loud clothing – love it! : )

  2. Jocelyn @ Peace Love Nutrition on April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I just got back from a work trip in Europe for 6 weeks and the thing I missed the most was Kale Salads! I must be a health food bloggers– only us : )



  3. Stephanie @ Legally Blinde on April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Aww, that was so sweet of the Pilot to build a platform for the birds! And that’ll be really fun if you can peek at the eggs and baby birds. Looks like an awesome baby meal! It’s pretty neat that you’re already cooking baby meals with your own baby. Great tips for keeping motivation up during group exercise classes – I really appreciate when instructors give lots of form cues and also educate during class; it’s informative, keeps me interested, and makes the workout go faster! I don’t think I’ve ever left a class – I just can’t do it. It always bothers me when people are on their own schedule and come in late or leave early.

  4. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Firstly, I love the Pilot’s comment about the loud gear – LOL! But I love loud workout clothes too, especially the Zumba branded stuff! As for motivation and energy in workouts, I totally hear ya. My morning class is SO energetic, but I’ve subbed a few where there was no energy whatsoever. I find that being super smiley, having uplifting music (definitely NOT Hey there Delilah!) and checking in with the class by asking “how are we feeling?” etc helps. I teach spin, so a lot of people come in all serious, and some not sure what they’re in for. Because of this, I try to keep the mood light and happy, but still deliver some good hard nitty gritty yells to get those that want a tougher workout to work at a higher intensity. Great topic Gina!

  5. Sarah on April 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I love the loudness of Zumba clothes. It’s so fun to get into the Zumba character/mood for a class!

    I was wondering how you’re liking those Zumba shoes, as I’ve been wondering if they’re worth it for a while now. I like those especially because they match my skort! Would you recommend the shoes?

  6. Morgan on April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Ha! My dog is named Rufio and I do Crossfit. I’m going to think of that everytime anyone talks Paleo (which is a lot!). We tried to get Ru to bark out his name like in the movie, but obviously that didn’t work, so we are trying to get the baby to say it now!

  7. Liz @ Southern Charm on April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

    AHhh I could go for a kale salad right now. Looks amazing!

    And I love how meals already in your rotation are paleo. So interesting!

  8. Lea on April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I just got a job teaching Pilates at my university and I’m really excited about it. But, I’m naturally pretty introverted and not a very chatty person so my biggest fear is that my class will start to flop and I won’t know how to bring the energy level back up, so those tips will definitely come in handy!

  9. Brittany on April 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I know what you mean about the songs. I’ll never forget when I was in my first spin class and “chasing cars” came on. Way to kill a great work out.

  10. Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs on April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I used to HATE it when I would be teaching ballet and you could just FEEL that the girls did not want to be there that day. SO hard to work with! A lot of times I would try to do something FUN to start of the class. Something different to get people’s minds thinking about something else. Like having everyone take off their shoes, roll up their tights and we would do yoga. I think it works for adults too 🙂

  11. Candice on April 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    That was so sweet of the pilot to build them a nest box! Awesome! And I don’t know what he was talking about…I think your outfit is cute! And the paleo meal looks super delish!

  12. Stefanie on April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I love this post! Since i teach at The Dailey Method, this totally is interesting to me and helps me for my classes i teach tonight! 🙂 Thanks!

  13. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I totally wore that tank yesterday 🙂 with the black and white shout-out cargos. Now THOSE are just plain ridiculous, you outfit looks completely normal to me, lol. Clearly I spend too much time in zumba garb!

  14. Amy on April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I’ve never left a fitness class until the end. I would be sad if someone would leave one of my classes so I stay until the end. I just adjust it up and or down for myself and stick it out. Hey there Delilah during spin would be interesting. When I was in grad school I taught an Aerobic Dance class for the Department of Kinesiology, 2 credits for doing aerobics 3 times a week! I had to give lessons on how to teach aerobics through out the 16 weeks and they had a project where they had to lead the class for 10 minutes each. One girl started out with Hey there Delilah and then had Ohio (Come back to Texas) to wrap up it up. It was so awkward, we ended up talking more about bpm and music selection.

  15. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Ohh that baby meal looks delicious! I think that’s such a nice thing to do and you create such fantastic, healthy meals! And these are good things to remember as a student too! It’s hard when the class feels like it’s dragging but it’s so helpful when instructors help point out form or give motivating statements– that always renews my energy!

  16. Sandy on April 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Seeing the bird’s nest the Pilot built, warmed my heart,very sweet…The food you made look’s so good.
    I love your blog..always uplifting:)

  17. Hillary on April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Um. Were we at the same spin class when “Hey There, Delilah” came on? Because that happened to me before, too. Ridiculous.

    I love the end of the Jillian Michaels’ DVDs. There’s one where she’s screaming that we “don’t slow down when the finish line is in sight!” It’s true! I always try to remind myself of that, even when I’m working out on my own.

  18. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on April 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Pal e oooooooooh! Love it… and love Hook haha. I’m going to be making some baby meals in the near future, I have one friend due in May and another in June. I really haven’t made too many freezer ready meals before… any tips?

  19. Heather on April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I left a Hip Hop aerobics class early when my favorite instructor ever was replaced by this girl who talked way too much. I don’t have a dance background so all her instructions confused the heck out of me. I just wanted to move!

  20. Katie on April 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Oh yes, when I used to practice Bikram yoga, I would leave often if there were a bunch of newbs in class that were disruptive and the instructor wouldn’t do anything about it, or if the instructor would ramble on about nonsense while I would be trying to focus in a pose.

  21. Talia @ Bite Size Wellness on April 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I had a favorite spin teacher back in Colorado who did all of the things you listed about and I LOVED her. I would religiously take her noon class. I have been through plenty others that are a major snore. The worst thing to do is put on a song and not talk the until the next song starts up. I wish I could take a class from you!

  22. Anna @ The Guiltless Life on April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I love the loud clothing! And I love that you guys return the favour with the baby meals – that’s such a great system, and the fact that everyone is so accommodating of special diets! I live in Vancouver, which is technically a great city for special diets, but I’m the only one of my friends that’s vegetarian, let alone g-f or paleo or vegan…so I think they would be completely stumped as to what to make for me lol! Ah well, that’s why I love the blog world!

  23. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    How nice of the Pilot to build that little nest thing!

    And I totally laughed out loud when I saw that Zumba outfit! Definitely a good way to fill any awkward silences in class! lol

  24. Alycia on April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    My hubby would have totally made the nest also. Love it!

  25. Julie on April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    There have been so many times when this has happened and I have totally left a class before it was over. It’s definitely most prevalent in Zumba classes for me but has happened in TurboKick.

  26. j3nn on April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Awww, that’s SO sweet of the Pilot to make a platform to secure the birdies in. And awwww, that’s SO sweet of you to make a Paleo meal for your friends!! I love Paleo foods; simple ingredients and very easy to prepare, not to mention so good for you. That’s a PERFECT Paleo meal for busy new parents. You guys are very thoughtful!! 😀

  27. Averie @ Averie Cooks on April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    That apple crisp turned out so well and I’ve never baked with xylitol either, but do love Spry gum.

    And being a fitness teacher and helping students stay motivated can be such a challenge! I am sure that you do a fabulous job 🙂

  28. Michaela on April 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I love when men do sweet stuff like that!!
    And watching birds nesting is so much fun, especially when the little ones are hatching.
    I actually have left two classes before they were over. One Hatha Yoga class, where I just could not find my flow and even though I really like the teacher as a person, I don´t like the way she is teaching her classes. The other class I left was a step-class. The teacher was new, had a totally different style than the previous one, and did sooo many twists, that we ALL got dizzy and could not keep up and we had to beg her to break down the steps for us. Basically, she just did her program without paying attention to us students and also she didn´t seem to care. I think it is not fair to the teacher if I am staying in class while not enjoying it (and actually be a bit annoyed), and also I do not work out if I don´t enjoy it, so I rather leave than stay.

    And seriously, spin + Hey Delilah?! That is SO WRONG!

  29. amy on April 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Great deed, helping the winged creatures, yay-you guys!

  30. Juls @ The Wife Thing on April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Haha love the Zumba outfit! Interesting perspective from a fitness instructor! I’d love to hear more about what instructors like and don’t like during class!

  31. Laura @ She Eats Well on April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    That baby meal looks delicious. Sweet potatoes are ALWAYS delicious in my book though. And love your funny “cribs” comment. Ha.

  32. Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves on April 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    How sweet and considerate of you to make them a totally Paleo meal! I know they must have appreciated it!

  33. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on April 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I hit a major energy slump in the last 10 minutes of spin class on Sunday – but the instructor was awesome and got me through it by cheering on the class. It really helps to feed off their energy!

  34. Allison on April 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    best outfit ever, it could even be brighter. The brighter the better!
    that fruit crisp sounds good! i’ve been eating paleo for the last month and have been wanting a good apple crisp recipe.

  35. Sara on April 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    When my old gym changed hands they changed to Zumba instructors that they felt would appeal to a wider demographic (polynesian and erm… ‘larger’). The problem was, most of them just weren’t that good and some were so unfit they resorted to instructing the class what to do and then walking around the room, clearly catching their breath. Boooring. I know they were trying to get away from the ‘fit white girl’ instructor stereotype, and attempting to attract the more ‘at risk’ part of society (in NZ, Polynesians and Maori are notoriously ‘over-represented in negative health statistics’) but .. I think it was a fail. I was contemplating stopping when my 10 class card ran out but then the earthquake decided that for me!.

    Another thing that has put me off group classes in the past was overcrowding. You would have to turn up an hour early and stake out a place in the group exercise room just to avoid being mushed at the back and hardly able to move.

  36. Ali on April 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Ahhh yes, the infamous “crickets” in the room. It’s a given that it will happen at some point in our teaching careers as instructors. I think there are so many factors like you said, size of the class, how WE feel on a given day. You ever wake up and just KNOW without a doubt it’s going to be an “ON” class? I just love those days.

    I for one am a firm believer in letting the music come to the forefront. I think too often as instructors we talk and take away from the great tunes. I think with careful planning, and giving “punchy” cues that really resonate with people, it allows us to talk less so they can enjoy the music and get the most out of their workout!

    I certainly have those days where I go home wondering, “what is wrong with me?” Luckily those are few and far between. It’s always on the days that you need it that someone says “great class” that you are reminded even though people weren’t chatty, they still enjoy us. That is so hard to swallow sometimes. After 5 years, I still struggle with it 🙂

    Hey I was just curious, what are your “go-to” pre teaching meals? I’ve been struggling lately as I decided to give up dairy…I always made a protein shake with greek yogurt and berries, but diary just doesn’t settle well. Wondering if you have any tips on what you find works for you. I mostly struggle in the evenings when I teach cycle, which as you know, doesn’t make you want to eat a belly full of food cause it makes you feel pukey! Anyway, would love any tips!

    Happy Tuesday Gina!

    • Fitnessista on April 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      hey girl! try making your smoothie w almond milk
      i love 1.5 c almond milk, 1 c frozen berries, protein, half a banana, spinach and a little stevia

      • Ali on April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        Brilliant!!!!!!!!! I’ll give it a go this week 🙂

  37. RachelG on April 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    This happens sometimes during BodyPump while we change our weights but thankfully the insyructor fills the silence by giving us tips about how much weight to use. My Zumba studio/primary instructor are so amazing that we all find ourselves “woo-ing” the entire time between songs. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      love the “woo-ing” 🙂

      • RachelG on April 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm

        How can you not after a little “Sexy and I know it”?? Lol!

  38. Cathy on April 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Wish I could go to your classes, you seem such an amazing instructor and just overall great person! I so enjoy reading all your sage advise, you are wise beyond your years. Really, I look forward everyday to your 2 posts, at least it’s usually two.

  39. Camille on April 11, 2012 at 1:32 am

    I think it is funny you mentioned slumps today during workout classes. I’m home on spring break and during my noon class, the instructor must have been using Pandora or the radio. Instead of music we kept getting commercials. Its hard to get in the zone when you’re listening to ads =( Needless to say I was disappointed.

  40. Heather on April 11, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Nama shoyu isn’t paleo. Anything soy isn’t paleo, just FYI.

    • Heather on April 11, 2012 at 2:47 am

      Oh, and neither is xylitol.

      • Laura T. on April 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        I agree! I thought the same thing when I saw that…don’t know how “strict Paleo” they are, but I would just give them a heads up that those things are in there.

    • Fitnessista on April 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      they eat soy sauce in small amounts- not strict paleo

      • Fitnessista on April 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm

        i talked to her before i decided what i was going to make, and they use xylitol as their primary sweetener

        • Heather on April 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm

          Ah. I was just pointing it out so that wouldn’t get that they might not potentially be able to eat is they are super strict.

          • Heather on April 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

            Geez, that makes no sense. Dumb auto correct.

  41. Amber L on April 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Awwww I love that he built them a platform. Keep us updated on the birdies please!

  42. updog on April 11, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Well, nama shoyu is soy-based, but it’s raw and it’s fermented, so depending on how strictly paleo you are, it can be a better option than regular soy sauce. Coconut aminos are the shiz in my humble opinion. A great soy-free option! Although, very strict paleo people don’t really use salt at all, do they? *faints*
    As for xylitol, it’s a naturally-occurring carbohydrate found in the fiber of many fruits and vegetables that’s processed into the granular form. So yes, not strictly paleo, but a workable option for people that eat generally paleo and want a sweetened baked good from time to time 🙂

    • updog on April 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

      This is a reply to Heather’s posts up top. Derp.

    • Heather on April 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      No soy =strictly paleo. I was just pointing it out. Coconut aminos are great. I love using them as an alternative. As far as xylitol, most of what I’ve seen is usually made from corn, so to me it’s a no-no, but that’s up to the individual. And salt, I’ve never read anything that being off-limits, only because it is naturally occurring.

  43. Georgina Mosquito on April 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

    wow, you’ve got a full bag of poison in there for my mom! She is allergic to xylitol and sorbytol and is having a lot of problems to find a proper diet for her because she is a vegetarian, lactose intolerant and allergic to many of the foods she could eat, poor thing!

    A huge kiss from Barcelona, Spain!

  44. Linz @ ItzLinz on April 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

    your husband is absolutely adorable for builing the birds a nest!!!

  45. Dinae on April 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I just read your blog after reading the news headlines. Reading your blog is like a breath of fresh clean air. thanks for the respite and the reminder!

  46. OneFitTwoFit on April 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Holy cow, this post had three things that really grabbed my attention.

    1. SO CUTE that Pilot built that box. What a sweetheart! You’ll have to keep us up-to-date on their egg-laying progress. =)

    2. Really great tips for keeping the energy up in a group class. I don’t teach, but I typically lead my friends through circuit workouts, so this is great for us. Heck, even when I’m working out alone, I think that “workout is temporary, results are not” line is really gonna stick with me. Sweet.

    3. Massaged kale. It just made me giggle. 😉


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