Yoga: A Journey of Self Discovery

Each month I honor one of our fit fam members. Our fit fam includes weight lifters, runners, ab challengers,  social media followers, and what I like to call our “yoga hotties!” Yep, these peeps know how to rock their yoga with consistent practice, leaving them feeling HOT!

This month, my client spotlight is Courtney. She is a yoga hottie. 


From Courtney:


I knew her and her daughter Belle. I have been doing yoga for 6 years with Kathy.

Before starting this journey I was in an unhealthy marriage that I refused to acknowledge to myself or anyone else. I gave up numerous opportunities from the time I was 17 to be with this man and I believed I could make it work and make it better. I had two young children that needed their world to be ok. And then I started getting sick, serious kind of sick, requiring surgeries and major medical intervention. Once, so driven and goal-oriented, I had somehow lost my way and lost connection to my self.

And then Kathy said those words I will always remember, “yoga is a journey of self-discovery” and I have never looked back. Health is dynamic and requires commitment and dedication. Health requires active participation in life-affirming actions, like yoga.

My goal is to continue on the health and fitness journey with Kathy.

Kathy is an exceptional trainer and yoga instructor.

The goals that she has helped me achieve are self care, discipline, increased mobility and flexibility. As a nurse, I know that our health is our greatest wealth.

Preserving my health through yoga has been an amazing journey that has been supported every step of the way by Kathy’s commitment and dedication to our yoga class.

I have gained inner strength as well as physical strength. I have often told Kathy that attending her yoga class these past 6 years has been a life-line for me during an extremely challenging time in my life. It gave me a framework to learn and understand the importance of grace under pressure. It gave me a connection when I had no other connection in my life. It gave me hope by keeping me moving, and as long as I was moving, I was moving forward in life.

Health is your greatest wealth and time is your greatest asset. Kathy Dolan respects and honors each of our abilities to foster healthy habits in our lives by providing a myriad of fitness classes and time-honored approaches to healthy living. I will always be a part of Kathy’s fitness world.

Fun Facts

My favorite saying used by Kathy is: “Yoga is a journey of self-discovery.”

The best part of the training: “Doing what you think you cannot do.”

Favorite “cheat food: “Sour gummy bears”

Where do you see yourself a year from now: “Doing yoga 4-5 days a week every week”

Any other comments: “Would you consider doing a yoga retreat, where we get to join you for a weekend, where we get to do yoga 2 times a day?”

Who would you like to thank?

“Kathy and Belle, because as a family you both make this fitness world possible for all of us.”


Trainer Comments:

Our daughters are the same age and we started seeing more and more of each other as our girls grew closer through playdates and activities. One day I invited Courtney to one of my yoga classes, and after a while, she took me up on my offer. I’m pretty sure this was her first class and I wanted to give her lots of encouragement as I know what it feels like to be the new one to yoga class. One class led to another and Courtney became a regular!  As we went along, I sensed some stress and knew she was going through a hard time in her personal life. 

Many times during savasana, emotions will rise to the surface and can sometimes be so overwhelming. I see it often as a yoga leader. It is a healthy form of release.


Leading yoga classes for almost 20 years now, I see this sort of release and transformation all the time. Yoga really is “a journey of self-discovery” and honestly some people bail quickly if it gets uncomfortable. Courtney stuck with it. Being alone inside one’s own head can get scary.


I am a single mom of three. I remember going through a divorce and feeling like I was going to die. Overwhelmed is an understatement. Through all the hard times, my faith in something much greater than myself, my kids, and exercising kept me alive. I never stopped teaching during these hard days and would somehow pull myself together each and every time to go lead my followers, teach my classes, and train clients through some of their very difficult days. At times I would lay my head on my mat feeling emotional pain so strong it was paralyzing. At times exercise was my saving grace. I remember, as I lie there cueing the leg lifts and the ab crunches, I felt once again like I was part of something healthy and good and that we all have emotional pain to go through.  I knew that to sweat and take my mind off my troubles would rid my body of the stress and I would be okay.

I always managed to get through for my students and clients. If I cried during a class, no one knew because it looked like I was SWEATING! I have always been athletic without being overweight. In high school, I remember coming home and at the family dinner table, my brother told me I looked so skinny as I walked across my high school quad! I cried.  The only time I really felt overweight was when I was on birth control pills. I share all of this because all transformations don’t revolve around how much weight was lost.  My story is not the classic before and after with photos of a huge weight loss like the kind that consumes social media. Life-changing, the kind that comes with a stronger body and mind transformation. Change your mind, change your body. Unless you change the mindset, you will most likely go around the same mountain many times until you make real change. Change can be scary. Transforming takes energy. 


When I feel someone going through the pain of any sort of emotional devastation, I find myself giving advice and comfort, all while pushing exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer, and health. I believe in the power of doing the work not only with the body but with the mind because I have lived it. 


Courtney’s story is a story of a mind and body transformation, much more than just the body. When you feel weak, thin, and low, some people have zero appetites and exercise takes a tremendous amount of mental strength. 

I am beyond proud to be a part of this beautiful transformation. You are not only a client but a dear friend and I am grateful our paths connected. Congratulations Courtney! You are a YOGA HOTTIE!

Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. Kathy Dolan is a master trainer with years of experience with the secrets to real results! You will find her teaching and training clients at a gym in the San Diego area or on the Class It Up Virtual Studio, and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 

Preventative Medicine: Movement Assessments

Scheduling a Movement Assessment with a health and fitness professional should be part of your preventative, self-care protocol. More likely than not, this preventative protocol is not covered by health insurance…yet.

Health insurance won’t pay for prevention…

Rest assured, there is hope on the horizon. BlueCross of Western New York is offering a wellness option with a debit card program. The benefit amount is based on the plan selected and can be used at fitness centers, health food stores, and even for doterra essential oils! Wow, just wow. As a health and fitness professional, this makes me happy as it is a big step in the right direction! It’s a matter of time and I’m sure there will be more insurance companies following suit because of the many scientifically proven methods effective in health care. In the meantime, don’t wait until you are injured or in pain to do something.

Self-advocating and being proactive and preventative in one’s own health and fitness is something everyone can implement.

The importance of having a coach!

When I observe and screen for muscle imbalances, range of motion, limitations, balance, muscle recruitment, and joint range of motion, it gives me valuable feedback. There is a new level of intelligence with my clients and how they feel while moving in their bodies. That is priceless information that must be processed for healthy longevity.  

Assessments should be a continual process of refinement as the body changes. A set of personalized exercise programs should include corrective strength and flexibility exercises. This prescription is most valuable to health, disease prevention, and well-being when taken seriously and regularly. It’s not a replacement for medical care or a diagnosis, but it’s a guide to moving and living better.

Along with movement assessments, a look at nutrition is an integral piece of health within the body and mind and should be part of a health care regime. Food is medicine.

Different types of injuries:

I read a study early on in my career where they basically looked at the rotator cuffs of cadavers ranging from young to the elderly, and each one had some sort of tear or imperfection in the rotator cuff. That stuck with me as exercising the shoulder joint has always been a favorite. Everyone needs to be doing RC strengthening. Will it prevent an injury at some point? Maybe, maybe not. If not, perhaps it will lessen the severity of the injury. Shoulders start with posture. Poor posture and balance equal weak muscles, the perfect recipe for injury.

“Lesions of the rotator cuff (RC) are a common occurrence affecting millions of people across all parts of the globe. RC tears are also rampantly prevalent with an age-dependent increase in numbers. Other associated factors include a history of trauma, limb dominance, contralateral shoulder, smoking-status, hypercholesterolemia, posture and occupational dispositions. The challenge lies in early diagnosis since a high proportion of patients are asymptomatic. Pain and decreasing shoulder power and function should alert the heedful practitioner in recognizing promptly the onset or aggravation of existing RC tears.” (World Journal of Orthopedics)

Movement Assessments include all movement in the body.

Movement allows us to take on our daily tasks and athletic activities with confidence and energy.  

To move with an optimal range of motion, it takes a consistent strength program to resolve any imbalances we may develop. When our range of motion is altered by a major or minor injury, lack of activity, or disease, our muscles can become unresponsive and can lead to changes in structural alignment. It can be really frustrating to experience an injury only to have a subsequent injury impair us further. When a muscle is not being used, it becomes unresponsive to recruitment and other muscles may overcompensate. Love to be outdoors doing the things you love? It’s important to keep all our muscles moving with exercise and strength training indoors so we can play outdoors.

When I first started teaching, part of my training was to video record myself during movement classes. Football players, golfers, gymnasts, dancers, and most athletes use video feedback for movement assessments. Schedule a session today and get a true picture of how you’re moving!

Workout inside so you can play outside!

Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. Kathy Dolan is a master trainer with years of experience with the secrets to real results! You will find her teaching and training on the Class It Up Virtual Studio and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 

Doing the Holidays Healthy

Doing the Holidays Healthy by Kathy Dolan

You have heard it many times: Most people gain 7-10 pounds over the holiday season.

It doesn’t have to be this way! You can enjoy all the holiday foods, goodies, parties and come out feeling amazing. Doing the holidays healthy doesn’t mean you don’t get to indulge!

Keeping the healthy balance starts with your mindset. So many have the all-or-nothing mindset which just sets you up for a lifetime of the yo-yo effect (aka ups and downs on the scale),  fluctuating body fat levels, and moods! Why torture yourself?

What is the “doing the holidays healthy?” For you, maybe it’s getting through the holidays without giving up on all your health and fitness gains! Maybe it’s feeling your best with energy and good health all season. Maybe it’s looking gorgeous in your little black dress for the company Christmas party or sparkling with good health celebrating New’s Year’s Eve with your kids.

What makes my clients succeed with year-round health and fitness training is the very same thing you need to do to maintain your healthy habits through your jolliness.

What is that one thing? Accountability!

Now, you are thinking you have to journal your food or track your calories? Nope. Train 4 times a week with me? Nope. Miles of cardio? Nope.

Accountability means setting a few loose rules or boundaries. Keep it real and honest. Heading into the holidays with a plan in place. Focus on how you want to feel during the holidays. Thoughts and feelings are our superpowers, so charge them up.

During Thanksgiving dinner, we can easily consume 3000 to 5000 calories so extra exercise is a must!

Here are a few tips:

Accountability

  1. Sign up for a Turkey Trot or a Turkey Burner Class
  2. Set a time to meet and walk the trail with your neighbor, sister, or friend.
  3. Book a few extra sessions with your trainer.
  4. Sign up for a contest like Doing the Holidays Healthy”  #Hashtag us and win free stuff!

Meal Planning

1) Plan on eating treats and sweets, but pick only the best foods that you don’t get all year. Don’t waste your calories on store bought cupcakes or the cheese and cracker platter. Savor your mom’s dressing, homemade cinnamon rolls, or dad’s prime rib. The foods that say holiday!

2) Portion Control.  Here’s my big tip: Eat a little of everything and a lot of nothing. ELF BITES. Elves are little wee creatures. LITTLE WEE BITES.

3) Eat small meals to avoid binging. Graze. There is always another gathering around the corner. Pace yourself.

4) Hydrate! For every adult beverage, match it with a glass of water. You will be so glad you did.

Watch the coffee beverages as they are as many calories as a meal. Stick to healthier drinks like vodka soda, bloody mary, or champagne to avoid the excess sugar of the season!

Move It (and dancing counts)

Every single chance you get to MOVE, MOVE. When you park at Costco, park out as far as you possibly can. Do 10 Minutes of cardio before you shower. Work the 10-minute abs while dinner is cooking. Sign up for early morning sessions with your trainer and get the heavy lifting done early. Put on your favorite playlist and dance like Richard Simmons, walk like Kathy Smith or run like Deena Kastor, even if it’s for 5 minutes. Set a timer and get up from your desk every hour and do 50 squats or pushups.

Focus on Family and Friends:  

The non-caloric soul food being served! It is said you hear the most when you are listening. So enjoy catching up with your friends and family. Enjoy these occasions and being around the people you love, not the food and drinks.

Here is The Instagram Hashtag Challenge:

Hashtag EVERYTHING that you do that is positive and healthy each day!

Start the train rolling with good vibes. The more you tag, the better you will feel! Look for health every single day and post a selfie of you working out, eating healthy, or setting an alarm clock to wake up and go to the gym!

The opportunities are endless. Get creative, not only will you inspire others with your healthy choices, you will get inspiration from others in the Doing the Holidays Healthy movement!

Have some fun! You CAN fill your newsfeed with MOTIVATION.  Choose Healthily!

Here are a few ideas to get you started and keep adding!

★Every day you got 8 hours of sleep

★Did a 10-minute workout

★Had a salad

★Intermittent Fasted

★Meditated

★Did Yoga

★Worked out

★Walked the dog

★Flossed

★Skipped the seconds at the buffet

★Did an act of gratitude

★Took a power nap

★Did a HIIT workout

★Parked in the furthest parking spot

★Focused on the family, not the food.

★Talked/chatted/called a friend

★Had a massage

★Had a healthy snack today

★Upped your workouts! Upped your intensity!

★Did an extra 5 minutes on the run

★Played charades at your next gathering

★Stayed hydrated

★Drank a protein shake after working out

★Had an extra serving of salmon

★Passed on the office donuts

★Had an ELF BITE OF ______ (Donut, See’s Candy, Cookies, Pie)

★Had an ELF size cocktail (1 glass instead of 3)

★Drank a glass of water between cocktails

Tuesday Trainer Tip : Find Your Yoga

The road to yoga is filled with many styles of yoga. It’s important to find a yoga style that fits your comfort zone. The word yoga simply means “union.”
Yin, Vin, Bikram, and even goat yoga!  yoga instructors come in all sizes, ethnics, ages, and political parties. Truth is, you will need to shop around until you find a good fit. Yoga is thought by some to be a stretch session with candles. Do your research or analysis  or you may end up crawling out of class in a sweaty puddle, discouraged.

So excited to add virtual yoga to my teaching schedule.  In offering  several styles and intensities and, after a consultation, I can guide clients in the direction they need to go. Having taught and taken yoga classes in many venues. One thing I have observed during my virtual sessions is the peace of a personal journey by each participant. A journey free of competition and judgement. The yoga classes with an environment of extreme competition, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of yoga. I have also gotten to know the furry family members. It’s  because they all seem gravitate to the peaceful and safe energy flowing into the space. They are naturals at yoga. Down dogs and all. I have a hard time getting the goat yoga thing, but I think what I’m getting from this observation is this. We know we get peace and comfort from our pets and yes, they from us. I hope to see you in Virtual Yoga Soon! Pets welcomed and always optional.