Welcome to Our New Trainers, Grace and Brittany!

We are excited to officially welcome two new trainers to The Studio(MDR) family! Grace Baen and Brittany Grasmick are Lagree Certified trainers who recently completed The Studio(MDR)’s rigorous six-month training program. Our studio prides itself on fostering the highest quality trainers in the business, and these two are no exception. They have proven themselves to be incredible assets to our training staff, and we couldn’t be prouder or more confident in them to train our rock star clients.


Grace hails all the way from San Marcos, Texas. She attended college in her home state at Texas State University where she received her BFA in Performance & Choreography. She moved to LA nearly four years ago to pursue a career as a choreographer and dancer. However, as fate would have it, she shattered her left ankle the first weekend she arrived, and her doctors predicted she’d never dance again.

Fast forward to 2016 when she was working at a law firm in Beverley Hills, a colleague recommended she try a class at The Studio(MDR) because of its low impact benefits on strength building and flexibility. She took her first class with Lindsay Hallam a week later and quickly discovered her new passion for Lagree Fitness. Over the course of the past two years, The Studio(MDR) has helped her regain the physical strength to walk again, and she has begun to dance again too and is feeling the strongest and healthiest she ever has.  

Grace says: “In a city where competition is everywhere, all the time, The Studio(MDR) reminds you that the only person you should be in competition with is who you were yesterday. The knowledge, safety, camaraderie, support, and the true desire for everyone to just be who they are and give their best are just a few of the reasons that I will always call The Studio (MDR), ‘home’.” 

Grace is a born athlete and teaches our Lagree classes as gracefully as she dances (must be in the name!)

Fun Facts About Grace:

She likes: volunteering; traveling; dancing; her large and loud family; Mosaic Church, Texas; queso; anything SPICY; attempting to surf; exchanging great ideas through conversations; sunrises; and the power of the human body, mind and spirit

She dislikes: being cold, gas prices, and mean people

Her party tricks include: making tons of bad jokes



Brittany was raised in Colorado and attended school at The University of Boulder Colorado. She is a huge Buffs fan, and was actually sorority sisters with The Studio(MDR)’s head trainer, Mary Miller, in Pi Beta Phi. She received her law degree at Loyola University, Chicago School of Law and is an entertainment lawyer here in LA.

Brittany has always been a fitness fanatic. She loves to ski (especially when she’s home), cycling, cross fit, biking, skating, surfing – you name it! When she moved to Los Angeles in 2015, she saw her old friend Mary’s studio featured in a local magazine, and quickly stopped by for her first class. Being as active as she was, she thought it’d be a breeze. Low and behold, it was one of the most challenging classes she ever took. She quickly discovered that nothing lengthened and toned her body quite like The Studio(MDR). And the best part: the results came so quickly! She loves the intensity of the workout and the individualized attention of the trainers here.

  • Brittany says: “The Studio(MDR) rivals all other Lagree studios. Being part of this community and conquering this intense workout has given me a newfound confidence in myself. Friends who knew of the Lagree method and who also know my love for health, music, teaching, and connecting with people, thought that I'd be a great teacher and encouraged me to join the training program. And here we are! Training at The Studio(MDR) has required persistence, self motivation and many hours to perfecting the craft. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this elite team of instructors.”

Fun Facts About Brittany:

She Likes: Her blue French Bulldog named Frank; meditation; learning how to surf; a band called 'The 1975'; Blue Bottle coffee; and her new nephew Toland 

She Dislikes: Pigeons and chalkboards 

Her party tricks include: Latte art and rapping



Love, Lisa


I was having a conversation with one of my girlfriends recently about the aging process. We were reminiscing about our early 20s and how, back then, aging was something we couldn’t wait to do. Life was all about summer vacations that stretched out endlessly and phrases like, “I can’t wait until I’m older” often flowed out of us.  

When we’re young, life seems to move in slow motion. It’s as if we have an inordinate amount of time left to accomplish our goals and realize our dreams. I know this was true for me. I spent my teen years longing to “make the team,” get invited to prom and dreaming of the day I’d leave home and go off to college. In my 20s and 30s, I was hard-charging on the career front, traveling around the country and occasionally the world for my work in the music industry. Following that period of my life, I then put every last bit of blood, sweat, and tears into creating The Studio (MDR).  Now solidly in the middle of my 40s, I’m doing a lot of reflecting—looking back, as well as looking forward, and being sure to take stock often about whether or not I’m living life to its fullest.

But, let’s face it: The aging process can be beautiful, and challenging. Just today, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror of my car as I was driving to work and I thought, Hold up—how did I go from 30 to 35 to, oh my goodness, 46 this week. But I still feel like I’m 35! Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful for my health and body, which I’ve worked hard to take care of. And, I also can’t help but notice that the elasticity of my skin has changed, as well as the contour of my cheeks. I think most women of a certain age can relate! 

My goal, of course, is to be genuinely OK with aging. And I’m learning that one of the secrets when it comes to doing this is to remind myself how grateful I am for every moment I have on this Earth and for every relationship I’ve made. What can I do to show myself and the people I love (including all of you!) this gratitude? What changes do I need to make to be sure I’m tapping the best of my capabilities and pushing the envelope when it comes to leaving this world a better place than how I found it?

I don’t have all of the answers, that’s for sure. And when I score the insider secret weapon to fight wrinkles and sagging skin, I’ll share it with you here! Yet in the meantime, I think all of us owe it to ourselves to ask these questions and to enjoy each moment.

And as I get set to stare down my 46th turn around the sun, I plan to embrace the changes rather than obsessing about the things I cannot control (except maybe for the saggy skin…  : )

With heartfelt thanks for being such a special part of my life,



Could a Gluten-Free Diet Improve Your Memory?

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By: Melanie Murphy, Graduate Student, Master’s of Science in Nutrition, USC


Just a few years ago, telling people that you were avoiding gluten would have immediately classified you as a “weird health nut.” In fact, it wasn’t until recently that anyone could accurately identify what gluten even was. Flash forward just a few short years, and foods labeled as “gluten-free” line mainstream grocery store shelves, and many people from a variety of health backgrounds tout improved digestion, mental clarity and increased energy as a result of avoiding this wheat-derived protein.

Historically, the effects of dietary gluten has been widely and primarily studied as it pertains to individuals who have Celiac Disease, a serious autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten damages the lining of the small intestine, leading to a series of severe gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, etc.) as well as nutrient malabsorption. In this fairly small percentage of individuals, avoiding gluten is not a matter of preference but rather a serious medical and nutritional necessity. Today, however, there have been further studies indicating a new sub-class of individuals with a condition called “gluten sensitivity” in which a gluten-free diet may not be a life-threatening necessity, but may actually improve a variety of health symptoms including digestion, energy, brain fog, weight management and more. Because some of the side effects and symptoms of gluten sensitivity are not digestive (and therefore not as obvious), some people with this issue may not realize they have it. Perhaps they never associated their lethargy or forgetfulness to the gluten in their food.

Even more recently, some researchers have begun to look more seriously into the effects of a gluten-free diet on improved memory in those with non-Celiac, gluten sensitivities. So what is the current research telling us about the association between a gluten-free diet on improved memory for people with gluten sensitivity?

The short answer is: not much… yet.

The bulk of the research available now pertains specifically to the potential neurological benefits of a gluten-free diet for those with Celiac Disease. That said, however, for those people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten’s primary impact on the body is increased inflammation, most specifically to the gut, which can cause irritating symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and more. When the gut is inflamed for prolonged periods of time, you risk causing damage to your gut flora (otherwise known as the good bacteria in your gut) which are responsible for sending certain signals to your brain when you are hungry or full, for example. (For you health nerds, this process is called the brain-gut connection). If your gut is inflamed, many hypothesis predict that this most certainly will impact your brain as well, although more definitive research is needed to fully explain how and to what extent your brain and memory might be impacted.

The long and short of it is this: know your own body and pay attention to how it reacts to the foods you eat. Gluten is not bad. In fact, the majority of people have no issues - digestive or otherwise – by eating a gluten-filled diet. However, if you find that eating gluten causes bloating, abdominal pain, GI-symptoms or brain fog, you may try limiting it from your diet and see if you feel better. When in doubt, visit a gastroenterologist or a Registered Dietitian for more guidance. You might find that you do, in fact, have a gluten sensitivity and could benefit greatly from a gluten-free diet.

Love, Lisa

The other evening I was at an industry dinner and someone asked me: “What word comes to mind to describe you at this moment.”  I replied, “Can I have two words?”


Those are the words that came to me. 

When it comes to fear, I am a blend of fearless and being afraid. I have been fearless in my professional endeavors, overcoming many odds to plan, build, and open three (MDR) studios, with more on the way. But I am aware of a somewhat fearful side, which I am always working on. One example?  My recent attempt to swim with sharks in Bora Bora. (Yes, I did actually get in the water with them and somehow managed to free my hands from the boat.) I’m also striving to be less independent—born out of a fear of always having to take care of myself. I know it may sound strange, but after living alone for the past 20 years or so and not being married, it’s been a little bit of a shock to my system to actually settle into being married. Don’t get me wrong—I am not complaining. I cherish what I now have and value my soulmate, who I opened my heart to fully and accepted him into mine. Yet what I know for sure now is that marriage is a huge deal, and it is inspiring me to be more fearless in letting my long-standing independence dwindle a bit. 

One tactic that’s helping me look at my fears and become more fearless is trying to live in the moment rather than dwell on the past. I think all of us can relate to wanting to do a better job of this. I've come to realize there’s beauty in acknowledging what I have, being thankful for it, and then letting go of what was. In our aim to move forward and embrace a newfound fearlessness, we need to acknowledge and put aside what is no longer ours and open ourselves up to allowing a new chapter to commence. And when we can do this, we’re living from a heart-centered place, which is where the real magic happens. 

New chapters come with new beginnings, new emotions and endless possibilities. Embracing the new and unexpected can only be accomplished when you open up your big, beautiful heart to never-before-experienced adventures. It means taking chances and exploring the unexpected. None of us can ever really know what’s waiting around all the corners we’ll face in this life. But if we can open our hearts and face our fears, the possibilities become endless. 

Big hug,



Bellsy (left) + Monica (right)

Bellsy (left) + Monica (right)

Mother-daughter duo Monica and Bellsy Hale have been coming to The Studio (MDR) together for over a year and we are so proud to have them in our community!  Learn how their time spent at (MDR) has brought them closer...



"What pushed me to start focusing on myself was the fact that I had become fed up with having a seemingly impossible time finding clothes that fit me right.  As simple as it sounds, that is what finally motivated me to get started.  I really became determined to get in the best shape that I could for my senior year of high school. 

Wow, the wonderful feeling of weight loss!  After taking a few classes, my body began to take shape, but in the beginning it was the simple shedding of pounds.  My parents raised me with pretty decent eating habits, but I am definitely more motivated to eat healthier now.

When I first started working out at The Studio, I used to hate moonwalker, but love it now!  I've come a million miles from where I started, and I've never felt this good about myself.  I just want to keep working and getting in the best shape as I possibly can."

"I've always been fairly conscious about the food that I eat, but have been somewhat inconsistent about the maintenance of a regular workout routine.   I finally decided that if I was going to be so careful with what I ate I ought to combine it with an equal commitment to exercise and see what results I could get.

I had reached a point where my hopping from program to program was leaving me frustrated with my lack of results. It was then that I decided to go full steam ahead with The Studio (MDR). 

After just a few classes at The Studio (MDR), the first thing I noticed was a fairly dramatic slimming and toning of my waist.  It's funny, as mindful as I was about my diet before going to The Studio (MDR), the results I have seen from the exercise have only inspired me to grow more disciplined with my eating habits.  I used to hate teaser pike, but I love that one now!!

Physically, I feel better than I have in the last 20 years, and as a result, I feel much better about myself as well. Going forward I want to continue to tone and shape my body and build off of everything I've done so far.

Having struggled with my self-image for much of my life, and seeing many of the same traits emerging in my daughter at a young age, I feel incredibly fortunate to have found an exercise program that not only are we both passionate about, but has yielded equally fantastic results for both of us. We can now speak a common language when it comes to fitness: we both know and discuss all of the exercises and the instructors, and have one another to lean on whenever our motivation feels sapped. It really is wonderful being able to share this experience with my daughter."  





Before I started classes at the studio, I had already lost close to 145 pounds over a period of two and a half years. Despite losing the weight, I couldn’t seem to find a workout that I enjoyed; it always felt like a chore or something that I “had to do”.  My doctor had emphasized to me that the key to sustained weight loss was healthy eating and sticking to some kind of physical activity that I would enjoy for the long haul. 

Because my mind had not entirely caught up with the physical changes (dropping multiple dress sizes and a new social interaction with the world around me), I also found it very challenging adapting to this new body.  This recognition triggered something in me, and I knew it was necessary to find a workout that would help me tone up all areas (especially after that kind of major weight loss), and more importantly, appreciate the new physical freedom I worked so hard for over the past couple of years.  

After a lower back injury (herniated disc) flared up again last summer, my chiropractor recommended that I try pilates classes to help strengthen my core, which would ultimately help strengthen my lower back and alleviate the discomfort. 

At the time, I began following The Studio (MDR)’s Instagram account and remember I was intrigued by the megaformer and this “Lagree method”.  I read that it incorporated strength training and cardio, and I thought to myself, “Why not? I have nothing to lose, I’ll give this a shot.”

Within the first couple of weeks, I couldn’t believe that I found myself looking forward to working out at The Studio (MDR)!  Mentally, I was feeling more confident because I was consistent in showing up to the classes.  Journey led the (MDR) Essentials classes—she was so patient, encouraging (her “Yasss’s” kept me going), adjusted my form, and helped me understand the names of the different movements. Physically, I could feel myself getting stronger—I was not struggling as much with holding onto a plank.  When my body began to shake from pushing myself to hold onto a leg movement, I knew that the physical changes were happening.  I felt a lightness in my clothes and noticed that my legs were becoming leaner and toned.   

There was also this type of amplified internal energy I was experiencing that I could not entirely put into words at the time.  I now recognize that it was a new sense of drive and motivation. 

Although I had made quite a few dietary changes before I started the classes, my general outlook on nutrition has really shifted since last year.  When you are using your body in any kind of movement, you want to fuel it with food that will make you perform at your best.  I began to integrate more mindful eating practices.  In those practices, I learned that food should enhance your life, not take away from it.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love to treat myself to a buttery almond croissant from Republique, but there is real power in nourishing your body, which, in turn, nourishes your mind.  To me, food is the ultimate healing source and I am living proof of that. 

The Escalator lunge with carriage kicks is the ultimate burn-shake move for me!  I used to DREAD IT, but now I can see how much this pose has helped strengthen my quads and even ab muscles.  If the move happens to be closer to the end of a class, I may feel like my legs are going to fall off, but I try to push myself to get through it! 

Since signing up with The Studio (MDR) last September, I’ve lost another 14 pounds, completely re-sculpted the shape of my body, and gained a new sense of self-confidence. 

At the end of my first Total Body session, I remember Stephanie said to me, “You have the strength, and I can see you don't entirely trust yourself, but you will get there!”  Without even knowing my background, she completely hit the nail on the head.  I had lost all of this weight, but I still didn’t trust the capability of my own body.  No one knows your body better than you and I learned to tap into my own internal drive.  Stephanie, in particular, has been so helpful to me since the start. She always takes the time to explain the how’s and why’s of a movement, and will stay to the end to answer any of my questions.  Between the cadence and flow of her classes, her kind and energizing demeanor, and her music playlists, I leave each class with a natural high! 

There is something to be said about this method and the spiritual and meditative element that comes along with your workouts.  During Lindsay’s classes, she’ll remind us, “You have a choice to be better and push yourself or you can choose to stay the same.”  This resonates with me the moment I doubt that I can’t complete an interval set.  The best thing you can do is to focus on the power of your breath and mind, knowing that the discomfort will lead to results.  The message applies to anything you do in your life, and I try to remind myself of this outside of the studio.      

Going forward, some of my new goals are to work on cleaner transitions between movements and eventually cut out any modifications so I can sign up for the R&D class.  I’m also still trying to make it to Stephanie’s 5am class! 

I want to continue to grow mentally and spiritually, so that I can help other people realize that the true strength they are seeking has always been within them. 



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Do you remember a specific moment that nudged you to go to class, or decide that it was finally time to make a change?

I live walking distance from (MDR) East. I always noticed all the pink, and wasn’t really drawn to it. I just assumed it was a barre studio - not like I even really know what that is. Then, back in September, I was in between gym memberships and looking for something new. I had tried Equinox, CrossFit, spin, yoga, and lost my groove with all of them. I work across the street from the Playa Vista location, and heard good things, so I got some co-workers to try it with me. It didn’t take long to get hooked and discover all that I was missing. There was so much strength work, and a lot of room to stay challenged. I was so excited, I started selling my wife on it, and we’ve been both coming 3-4 times a week since.

What were the first changes you noticed after the first few weeks of taking classes at The Studio (MDR)?

I was exhausted and sore everywhere after each class. And, I could feel by belly tighten up almost right away. That got me curious because I hadn’t experienced that before, even with how active I was. Once I started to slow down and hold poses longer, that’s when significant change happened quickly. And, it was most noticeable outside of class. I had more strength and stability when I hiked, ran, rode, or did other full-body workouts. That’s when I knew that (MDR) was the perfect compliment to all other exercise I enjoyed. The instructors really motivate as well, and play a big part in my progress. I keep getting stronger thanks to the great cues and adjustments from Stephanie, Albina, Lindsay, Erika, Yumi, and Mary.


Have you cleaned up your diet and if so, how has it changed?

I have, and I’ve never felt better! I met with a nutritionist a few months back, and shifted to a whole food ketogenic diet. She had me focusing on eating greens, veggies, and quality protein, all while keeping healthy fats a big part of my overall intake. That really helped kick start my weight loss. After some fine tuning and a lot of weight fluctuation, I lost nearly 30 pounds over several months. Most recently, I read The Plant Paradox, and it has changed how I make food choices and evaluate my overall health even more. It’s a combination of an elimination diet and an anti-inflammatory diet. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but the impact on my quality of sleep, energy level and mental well-being have made it all worth it. I’m still eating a lot of greens, but now I am much more conscious of the type of veggies and amount of protein I eat. And, it has also helped me easily maintain my weight without having to pay attention to calories, which is a nice plus. 


What’s one pose that you used to hate but love now?

Transitions used to frustrate me at first, because I never could tell what was coming next. I felt like I was spending more time listening and looking around than doing actual work. Now, I like the challenge in between poses. I’m getting better at anticipating what we’re working on in the next move, and whether I should modify and recover, move fast, or stay engaged.


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How far have you come from your starting point in both physical and mental ways? And what are some of your new goals when you look ahead?

Doing (MDR) has made me more confident to explore new workouts. Before (MDR), I felt like I was just going thru the motions with any activity. Now, I’m more in touch with how my body works and I feel more athletic. Moving forward, I’d like to challenge myself more mentally. I started meditating recently and I’m finding that a daily practice has been helpful for staying positive and compassionate during workouts, along with every other part of my life. I’d love to develop that more.



Bride-to-Be, Jessie Waldberg, at Playa Vista Studio (MDR)

Bride-to-Be, Jessie Waldberg, at Playa Vista Studio (MDR)

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, which means wedding season has officially begun! After our own fearless leader Lisa Hirsch (now Solomon) got married this spring, we realized just how many women were interested in getting in shape for their wedding. We hear countless stories from brides-to-be who come into the studio in preparation for their big day, so we thought we’d give you a glimpse into the life of one of our inspiring clients, Jessie Waldberg.

Jessie is one of those women who makes balancing a demanding career and a healthy lifestyle look effortless. She works as an RN and has constantly struggled with lower-back pain issues caused from her strenuous career of working with patients day in and day out. When she found The Studio (MDR), she realized it was the workout she was looking for. Her chronic back pain had limited the workouts she could participate in, but with (MDR) she found a workout that strengthened her core without putting pressure on her back.

Jessie has been a member since October 2015 and was hooked after taking her first class. Originally, she went to both the East and West (MDR) locations but when she and her hubby-to-be, Emil, moved to Playa Del Rey, she began attending classes at the Playa Vista location as well. Now she regularly attends classes at all locations.

While catching up with her, we got the lowdown how she’s getting in shape for her wedding (she swears The Studio (MDR) has been a huge part of getting her in pre-wedding shape). She dished details on how he proposed, her bachelorette party, her diet, and how she has stayed active!  

Q: How did you and your fiancé, Emil, meet?

A: Very cliché, but we actually met online. I found out that we had mutual friends, and my older brother actually knew him in college. Also, we found during our first date that we actually went to kindergarten together. Small world, but we instantly hit it off after meeting and have inseparable since.

Q: Tell us how your hubby-to-be popped the question!

A: We were on a trip to Israel for his best friend’s wedding. Our two-week trip to Europe included Budapest, Prague, and Israel. It was magical! On the last day of the trip, he popped the question, and the rest is history.


Q: Tell us about your bachelorette party!

A: I went on a trip in May with my best girlfriends to Palm Springs. It was themed “Jessie’s Last Flamingle,” and we had so much fun hanging by the pool at the Ace Hotel one day and at our private house the other days. It was Cinco De Mayo weekend so Palm Springs was very rowdy. We even ended up at a strip club one night—it was hilarious!

Jessie at her bachelorette in Palm Springs, CA.

Jessie at her bachelorette in Palm Springs, CA.

Q: Where are you heading for your honeymoon?

A: We are heading to Bora Bora (also where The Studio’s Lisa is going!), which I am excited about! I wanted to look and feel good at my wedding and honeymoon, so the “look it* feel it*live it®” really does play into my life. I want to look and feel good, and this workout makes me feel that way.

Q: What do you do to keep in shape?

A: Working out consistently has been a huge part of what has helped me stay in shape. I have a busy schedule and long 12-hour shifts at the hospital when I work, but on my days off, I make sure I go to The Studio (MDR). I plan and schedule classes and don’t give myself excuses to not attend. I make sure I show up, because I know if I don’t I won’t have a chance to make up for it due to my busy schedule. I also eat very healthy which helps me keep on track. And I give myself rest days so as not push myself. The recovery days are important!

Jessie & her fiancé Emil Shour on vacation

Jessie & her fiancé Emil Shour on vacation

Q: Why did you choose to use The Studio (MDR) for your workout before your wedding?

A: Besides allowing me to build my core without further straining my back, I love that (MDR) targets areas such as my abs, arms, and booty so that I look good in my wedding dress. Since starting, I’ve seen results in gaining long, lean muscle (which was something I wanted) and getting more toned in all the areas mentioned. It's always a challenge, and I always leave feeling stronger. The music is great, and the teachers are super encouraging.

Q: Do you have any favorite moves?

A: I love moon walker and bear. I also love the lunge series because it targets the muscles in the lower body like hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and calves. Bear always leaves my abs sore, which is an area I previously avoided when I worked out alone. At (MDR), the classes are structured to target many areas, not just one area. I love that about the classes.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your diet and what you eat or what diet restrictions you stick to?

A: I have a very sensitive stomach so dairy is completely out. I focus on eating a diet that consists of lean protein (chicken and fish) and a ton of veggies.  I limit the amount of carbs and sweets I eat as well. I think it is super important to treat yourself but not all the time—for me, a guilty indulgence is coconut ice cream.

Q: We love that you realize it’s important to treat yourself once in a while. What is the most important thing you do to stick to a healthy diet?

A: I always bring food to work. This allows me to stay on track with my healthy diet and helps me stay away from unhealthy foods. I usually pack lunch salads with protein like chicken or tuna and lots of sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes!


Jessie and Emil’s wedding will be held in Malibu, June 2017. We are so happy for our (MDR) Bride Tribe babe and wish her and Emil a lifetime of happiness and love. She is an inspiration to women who want to get in shape before their wedding and who love Lagree! Thanks for sharing your story and tips with us, Jessie! <3



Transformer of the Month: Frank Harrell

I started working out in 1978 when I finished college and started my first real job. I started playing racquetball at a club with a large workout presence and I’ve been a ‘gym rat’ since my late 20s.

My starting point with Pilates was probably 20 years ago - I attended a session in Santa Monica. My lasting impression was "Pilates is really nerdy and uninvolving".

Dana Clark - another The Studio (MDR) member is my life partner. She pushed me to take my first class (for over 3 years she kept it up: "you need to try this". Dana has always looked great but the results of Pilates were undeniable. At this time, I was going to Gold's Venice or more likely Equinox in Beverly Hill - 5 minutes from my work. My workouts were frequently interrupted by phone calls from work and I really wasn't getting much out of my efforts. 

Dana kept telling me: "You'll love Pilates," to which I would reply, "I tried it. It was nerdy and un-involving" besides, Equinox is just down the street from my work and The Studio (MDR) West is a 15-20 minute drive that is completely out of my loop.

About a year later, Dana mentioned that The Studio (MDR) had secured a space at Playa Vista. (This was probably a year and a half before The Studio (MDR) Playa Vista opened.) Dana kept hammering me to try it and finally, I looked at the Lagree Method website and The Studio (MDR) site and it did not look like the Pilates that I tried years before. 

About this time, we attended the wedding of (MDR) devotees Bacchus Freedman and Mona Perez. Bacchus told me how Megaformer Pilates changed and kept his life energized. It became obvious to me that as soon as the Playa Vista studio opened I would have no more excuses. I continued to monitor news about the Playa Vista location and Dana kept asking Lisa.

Finally, on Saturday, April 2 2016, the new location opened - I had signed-up for my first class: The "Intro To" with Lindsay Hallam. In short, it was a challenge: So I bought a 1 Week Introductory Offer and took 3 Essentials Classes that week and with Dana's encouragement: "You're ready for Total Body - just jump in and do it!”

My first "Total Body" on 4/9/2016 with Erika Rae DeFrates convinced me that this was a workout plan for the rest of my life. One thing that I need is constant motivation - the instructors provide this. You cannot 'phone-in' a Megaformer Pilates workout - each workout is different so, it's hard to get bored. 

The first changes I noticed were that I was really sore in places I never expected to be and that I walked like a cowboy fresh from a 5-day cattle run. By 3 months, I had dropped 10 lbs. After another couple of months I noticed that my posture had improved to the extent that I was standing at least half an inch taller and I just felt different when walking and standing. Shoulders back, stomach in. 

My diet hasn't changed all that much - still an omnivore - lots of fish/shellfish, chicken and lean beef with the occasional pork thrown in. My diet wasn't bad but I am more conscious of sugar. I try to eat sugar only when I want something sweet so I avoid processed foods.

The pose I used to hate? Stationary Lunges - in fact any lunge.  Now, I wouldn't say I love lunges but I don't hate them either. My favorite poses are King Cobra, Starfish, and anything with a push-up. Mountain climbers are my favorite according to Erika Rae DeFrates.

The physical improvements are obvious to everyone around me - the mental ones are not. At this point, if I can get through fifty minutes of (MDR), I can get through most anything. It is all in the mind. 

My goals for the future include: keep making time for my 3-4 classes a week and pay more attention to transitions.  

Enough about me - I'm very grateful for the constant 'encouragement' and feedback that I get from Erika Rae DeFrates and Lindsay Hallam. Thanks to Lisa for being a good judge of character and hiring such great people. The instructors at StudioMDR are a true team.



What was your starting point?

I started MDR religiously (3-4 times a week) 1 year ago, about 8 months after my son was born.  I was having a hard time loosing the final 10 lbs of my baby weight. Aside from being above my normal weight, my body was unrecognizable to me.  Pregnancy had changed the shape of my body and I wanted my toned body back.   On top of wanting to change my body I also had severe lower back pain, which made it difficult to do any exercise.  I was feeling stressed out and unhappy with the way I looked.  

Do you remember a specific moment that nudged you to go to class, or decide that it was finally time to make a change?  

I suppose I was superficially motivated by summer, which was fast approaching, but I also just missed working out. I have been athletic my whole life and prior to my son, I worked out 6 days a week doing a variety of spinning, running, circuit training and strength training.  I really missed working out and feeling strong.  Working out has always been a sanctuary for me, and I felt lost and anxious without it.  I knew something had to change. 

What were the first changes you noticed after the first few weeks of taking classes at The Studio (MDR)?  

The first thing I noticed within two weeks of going was that my lower back pain completely gone.  The teachers were very helpful giving me suggestions to modify positions until my core was stronger.  Once this happened my back no longer hurt and I was able to do poses without modifications; I was also so much happier.  I could hold my son without pain and it also allowed me to get back into spinning and running.  The next thing I noticed were my stomach muscles, I could see them again!!  I have done every workout imaginable and I had never seen results as quickly as I saw with MDR.   By summer I was proud of my body - my stomach was flat and my butt was high and tight.  

Have you cleaned up your diet and if so, how has it changed?  

I was much more religious about my diet when I first started because I wanted to loose those last few pounds. I tried to stick to mostly protein, veggies, low sugar fruits, and healthy fats but I definitely cheated every once and a while.  Once I lost the weight I wasn't as strict and I have been able to maintain my weight.  

What’s one pose that you used to hate but love now?  

When I first started I hated bear off the back of the machine.  I just didn't get it. I never felt it in my lower abs and I always felt it in my quads.  It was the most challenging move for me.  After a few months it finally clicked for me and I could do it.  I no longer felt it in my legs and was able to connect to my lower abs.  I wouldn't say I love it now but I now like it.  The moves I love are those that make my butt burn, but I have always felt that way. 

How far have you come from your starting point in both physical and mental ways? And what are some of your new goals when you look ahead?  

I think that the most dramatic change has been my quality of life.  I am less stressed and happier.  (MDR) allowed me to reconnect to my inner and outer strength, which empowered me in other areas of my life.  I have over exercised and struggled with body image issues my entire life and for the first time I feel proud and at peace with my body.  I workout less than I use to and am happier with the results than any other exercise.  My body is lean and toned without being bulky which is what tends to happen to me with other workouts.  My goals for the future are to continue building my strength and to remain on this path of happiness.



Super inspired by (MDR) client, Shentale, so we're putting the spotlight on her for all her hard work! Get the low down on what she's overcome and her commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Take it away, Shentale...

"After several sinus surgeries, my body was left in the most out-of-shape state I’ve ever experienced. Rather than getting depressed, I decided to get positive and regain back a healthy body. Being in my 40s, my prolonged illness taught me the extremely valuable lesson that without one’s health, one’s quality of life is greatly diminished. With this lesson in mind, I reset my financial priorities and decided to invest in my health as a preventive measure.

As such…enter the Studio (MDR). All gyms, like exercise routines, are not created equal! A former trainer of mine referred me to the Studio (MDR) after my doctor cleared me to exercise.

In July of 2016, I began attending Essential classes. It’s been four months since I was gently encouraged to move to the more challenging Total Body sessions. What I’ve discovered is that even though I still rely on modifying some of the moves, I always feel one step closer to my goal at the end of each class. It is motivating and reassuring when one focuses and actively works toward a set goal. Also, the instructors are keen to ensure that all moves are done properly.

The atmosphere is very professional, positive, friendly and inspiring as well. Patience is urged from the instructors, the staff and the owner, Lisa. In one word my experience has been: Fabulous!

Paired with a healthy meal plan, a cardio routine, determination and consistency, the desired physical as well as emotional results will come if an individual is determined. From Mega Stretch, to Essentials and the ever-challenging Total Body, all of the Lagree method classes are rewarding while the instructors are attentive and incredibly encouraging.

As a writer, I’m well versed that achieving optimal physical shape is akin to sculpting one’s body, which in turn is like crafting a well-written story. And although this particular chapter in my personal, nonfiction tale is yet to be complete, I highly anticipate a very happy ending upon attaining my fitness goals. However, that will only be the completion of one chapter with many more to come pertaining to the overall desire of maintaining a healthy lifestyle!

I firmly and strongly recommend those who wish to engage in an effective workout regimen, whether if just beginning your fitness journey or desiring to maintain an existing one, to check out any of the three locations of the Studio (MDR). With patience being your top priority: Put in the work. Put in the time. Prepare for fabulous results. You will not be disappointed!"



Last month, our beloved leader of The Studio (MDR)—the CEO formerly known as Lisa Hirsch—married her best friend and all-around amazing guy, Andy Solomon. Their wedding took place at a beautiful villa in the Santa Ynez Valley. We recently caught up with Lisa to chat with her about her big day.

Q: Tell us more about your wedding. What was it like? 

In a word: magical! It was pure fun, and exactly how I wanted it to be. I laughed from the moment the wedding ceremony started until I closed my eyes to go to sleep. The best part was that it seemed like everyone else was having the time of their lives, too, which was all that I wanted for everyone who was there.

Q: Was it what you expected it would be like? 

To be honest, I had no expectations, which made all of it even more phenomenal! I knew we would throw a good party. But, literally, our friends and family from all walks of life got along, laughed, and danced from the moment they walked into the tent until we were told we had to leave the after-party in the wine cave! It felt like one big love-fest!

Q: Is there a moment that surprised you?

My parents have been divorced for 35 years and after a long, rocky road of separation, it was nice to have them both walk me down the aisle.  It was an honor to have them at my wedding and to know how proud they are of me.  For a moment, time seemed to stand still, differences were put aside, and my mom and dad stood together, helping me feel like even at 45 years old, I’m still their little girl. 

I have to say, I also felt this incredible gratitude as I stood next to my parents and waited to walk through the vines (my “aisle”). It was so incredible to know that I was about to marry my best friend, the love of my life, and the man of my dreams. It was an affirmation of my good fortune.

Q: Are there any dietary changes you made before your big day that you’ll stick to post-wedding?  

PALETA has been my go-to for years, and I will continue to order from their food delivery menu. It’s honestly the best I’ve tried and makes it so easy for someone like me who is constantly on the go, ensuring that I will eat enough before and after my workouts.

Q: Any pre-wedding diet tweaks that you’ll abandon now? 

Yes! One word for you: Pizza. Pizza (and an occasional glass of wine) are back! While I always try to keep good nutrition in mind, reaching for mostly veggies, fruit, and lean protein, I definitely won’t be as strict as I was prior to the wedding.

Q: Are there any exercise changes you made that you think you’ll keep doing now that the wedding is over?

My back is feeling much better, and I credit the Lagree Method with helping me heal. I also started meditating in the stressful months leading up to the wedding, and I’m officially hooked. I’ll definitely continue working with the incredible Rachelle Tratt and Taylor Estes.

The only thing I’ll change when it comes to my workouts is that I may not throw in that fourth day at (MDR), because three is plenty! 

Q: What was the best part of wedding prep? 

Meeting my wedding planner, Percy Sales. He is officially a friend for life. I also thought our Cantor, Mark Childs, was phenomenal. I only wish he lived in Los Angeles and not Santa Barbara, because I would be joining him for Shabbat services every Friday evening! Cantor Childs helped to make our ceremony intimate, warm, fun, and incredibly meaningful—and for that, I will be forever grateful to him. 

Q: What was the worst part of wedding prep? 

STRESS. STRESS is EVIL. There’s a reason it has a link to most health issues, sleeping issues, family arguments, wrinkles, pains that come out of nowhere … the list of woes goes on. The ultimate catch is that we bring it on ourselves and we are the only ones who can stop it. 

Here’s my biggest suggestion for anyone planning a wedding: Figure out what is most important to you and focus on that first. Do not let family make your big day “their” day. Remember that it is about you and your partner, and that it’s important that you really enjoy it. So, actually take a moment to dance, laugh, have a drink with your best friends. Yes, it will be a blur. But I can honestly say, I recall everything people said I wouldn’t!

Also, try to remember that if something goes wrong during the actual day, most likely no one will know but you—so don’t draw attention to it. For instance, our caterer was so late in serving our courses that we didn’t get to do a cake cutting—or even get to serve our incredible cake at the wedding. At first I was bummed, because the cake was so delicious and beautiful, and I wanted to give my friend who made it time to shine. But then I realized, why stress?! There was nothing I could do since someone else messed up, so let’s just get it served during the after-party! From what I heard, everyone had an incredible time and not one person noticed the cake situation or that the photo-booth wasn’t set up till mid-way into the party because they got into a car accident on the way to the wedding (thank G-d they were OK!).

Q: What are you most looking forward to in this new chapter? 

I love saying, “Hi, its Lisa Solomon.”  I am so proud to be married to such an incredible man and have a wonderful new family. I was very nervous before I stepped out of the villa to walk down the aisle. The wind had kicked up and my dad kept stepping on my dress, and I was worried that everyone would see my tush. But as soon as I saw the rose petal walkway, my darling husband-to-be, and all of my friends and family smiling at me, it all melted away and all I could do was smile back and giggle. I had a quick flash over my life and a calm came over me. I knew that though I was getting married a little later in life than I may have expected, I was lucky to have waited for my perfect fit.  

Do’s & Don’ts of Athleisure Makeup

It’s no secret that athleisure has blown up in the past few years, with LA at its epicenter. It’s not at all uncommon to see girls seamlessly transition from brunch to The Studio (MDR), all without an outfit change.

The newest trend should come as no surprise — athleisure makeup.
You heard right: makeup.

We know, for years, everyone from your mother to your aesthetician has been telling you that wearing makeup to the gym is a big don’t and could lead to acne.
So has wearing makeup to the gym finally become a do?

Let’s break it down.

What exactly is athleisure makeup?

Athleisure makeup focuses on adding natural coverage and definition without clogging your pores. These new lines of makeup, skin care, and other body products are specifically made to control sweat and be lightweight, breathable, and long-wearing.

And like athleisure clothing— it’s also great for rest days where you’re hitting Netflix instead of the gym.

So, is athleisure makeup really safe to wear to workouts?
Here’s where the jury’s out. When it comes to your face, the safest bets are mineral-based powders, which are naturally non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging). Even so, mixing with sweat could still lead to clogged pores after a bout of intense cardio. The main takeaway here is that if you’re going to wear makeup to the gym, to choose something that’s light and oil-free—like a non-comedogenic tinted primer or a water-resistant tinted moisturizer with SPF. Confession - we’re obsessed with this Laura Mercier moisturizer that has clean ingredients and a little bit of illuminator to give your skin a healthy glow.

 The good news: when it comes to eye makeup and lip color, you’re set. There are fewer pores in these areas, leading to a lower likelihood of acne.

Another great find is Tarte’s new athleisure makeup line which includes items like Lifted Sweatproof Mascara, a new, lightweight mascara meant to offer a natural look and lift that persists through even your sweatiest class.   

And we can’t forget to mention Arrow’s BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm ($14), which was actually the best-selling product on Birchbox last year. As an added bonus, all of the products in the Arrow line are paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Interested in more athleisure makeup options? Refinery29 has a great slideshow featuring their top picks that you can check out here.

We’d love to know what your athleisure beauty routine is and what’s working best for you. Tag us on Instagram @thestudiomdr to join the conversation and of course, share your fave products!

(MDR) Bride Tribe: Lisa Talks Wedding Prep

Our Founder and CEO of The Studio (MDR), the one and only Lisa Hirsch, is getting married this weekend! In addition to wishing her a world of happiness, inquiring minds want to know: What’s life been like leading up to the big day, and what have you done to look and feel your best? Here’s what Lisa has to say…   

Q: What was your diet + exercise routine like before you started wedding prep?

A: I’d take classes at The Studio (MDR) 3 times a week, and I would typically throw in a spin class at YAS twice a week. If I didn’t spin, I’d do some cardio at Spectrum in the early mornings with my fiancé, Andy.

Q: How has your diet + exercise routine changed since you started preparing for your wedding?
A: Well, I should preface this by saying it has definitely been an interesting time to prepare for my wedding because I have a lower-back injury that I have been working through. So, the limitations of that—both mentally and physically—have been intense! I’m someone who is normally quite strong and dedicated to an exercise routine, so learning how to really listen to my body and back off when my pain is “talking” to me has felt rather stifling at times.
Because of these limitations on my workouts over the past three months, I’ve had to focus a lot on my mental preparation for the wedding—which has been a blessing in disguise! As anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows, getting all of the details organized is seriously stressful! Learning how to control my stress (and I’ll admit it—my frustration at times!) and channel it into something beneficial is work that’ll benefit me long after Andy and I say “I do.”
Despite my injury, I’ve continued to work out at The Studio 3 to 4 times a week (I added an extra day), but now I modify many of the moves due to my injury. I am very cautious because I obviously don’t want to make my injury worse. All of our trainers have been amazing, helping me make modifications so that I stay safe but still get a good workout.
I am also lucky in that I received a Peloton bike for Hanukkah this year. So, I spin in the comfort of my own home a couple days a week. It saves a ton of time—and also truly feels as if I am actually in a class!
I also practice yoga—though it’s a more “mental” yoga these days, because I can’t curve my back into certain postures due to my back pain. Once a week, I practice with one of my clients who is a fabulous teacher, Rachelle Tratt (she teaches at Yoga Collective in Venice). She also guides me in meditation, which I’ve found super-helpful in the stressful times leading up to the big day.
As for my diet, I’ve been extremely lucky to work with my good friend, Chef Kelly Boyer, who is the CEO and founder of PALETA.  I order her meal delivery service daily to make sure that I eat enough before the wedding. As a bride-to-be, I want to look and feel amazing. I also know myself well enough to know that during really busy, stressful times, it’s easy to forget to eat. For someone who is constantly on the go like me, PALETA is perfect. It gives me all the nourishment I need, and everything that arrives in those cute little cooler bags tastes delicious!
Finally, I’ve also been working with Dr. Koyama, who practices Color Therapy. To be honest, I can’t explain it. You’re just going to have to trust me: Go to him if you have any sort of minor injury! Color Therapy works, and it doesn’t hurt. Plus, the doc’s office is conveniently located on Washington Blvd.
Q: Are there any dietary or exercise routine changes that you plan on continuing after your wedding?
A: For me, it’s all about continuing to heal my back and get stronger, so I think my pre-wedding routine is my new go-to routine.
Q: What kind of changes have you seen in your body since you started wedding prep?
A: In many ways, I’m a lot stronger than I was before I started wedding prep. And I really have my injury to thank for that! Strength is about so much more than physical fitness; it’s also about how well you’re able to stay grounded during crazy times, or connect with your body even when it’s injured and won’t do what you’d like it to do.

Q: What are you most excited about in preparing for your wedding? 

A: Knowing that all the people I love will be in the same place at once, and that I am marrying the most wonderful man.
Q: What has been most stressful about preparing for your wedding? 

A: Sticking to a budget, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and dealing with a back injury throughout it all!
Q: What kinds of things have you been doing to support a positive psyche in what can be a fairly stressful time? 

A: I’ve called my life-lines (a.k.a. my friends)! And lucky me, a couple of my dear friends are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to meditation. Working with Rachelle Tratt on breathing techniques as well as Taylor Estes, who teaches a form of yoga called Kundalini, has been amazingly supportive and calming. I also drop in to my friend’s meditation studio, Suze Yalof Schwartz’ Unplug, for group meditation sessions.  
Q: What is the most “out-there” thing that you have tried (from a diet/exercise/ psychological POV)?

A: Definitely color therapy. It may be all mental, but I swear, it works!
Q: What advice do you have for other brides-to-be preparing for their own weddings on how to get into wedding-ready shape?
A: There is not a cookie-cutter “Guide to The Perfect Bride,” but here is what I can suggest.
For starters, I think it’s smart to simply embrace the fact that planning a wedding is stressful. Wait, I take that back. It’s not stressful, it’s extremely stressful. I would open 10 studios in one day over planning a wedding again, and I have the BEST wedding planner ever, Percy Sales! So, know that things are going to come up between you and your partner that are unexpected. Try to roll with them and take a step back when things get heated or uneasy. Because in the long run, it’s really just supposed to be a happy day in your life, celebrating your union of love—nothing more. Life is too short to let the details make you crazy.
When it comes to exercise and food intake… Yes, we all want to feel and look good on our wedding day. But it’s important to remember that when you are shining from within, you look a heck of a lot better then when you are 5 pounds smaller, feeling miserable and broken. So, do what lights you up and makes you happy! Go for hikes, sign up for a private meditation session with one of my amazing teachers, and come to The Studio (MDR) three times a week for one of the most effective (and fun!) workouts you’ll ever try. Whatever it is that makes you utterly you, DO IT! And when you do, I guarantee it will make you be the most GORGEOUS (MDR) BRIDE EVER!
Look It*Feel It*Live it®

How to Keep Your Glow While On the Go!

(MDR) client and certified holistic health coach Moniqua Plante shares nutrition tips and tricks for eating healthy that are perfect for anyone with a busy schedule. She is all about keeping your glow while on the go with new ideas for healthy snacking, easy small meals and hacks to sneak in nutrient dense greens everyday so we thought we’d share the 411 with you. Take it away Moniqua!

We are all busy, right? And ideally you've taken some time out of your week to do a lil meal prep, right? Uh huh. Look, I'm the queen of meal prep, but there are times when even my schedule is so off the chain, I just can’t get it done.  Then (shocker!) I find myself out and about—and STARVING.

Making better food choices at home and on the road will have an uber positive impact on your life as a whole. Your energy levels will soar, you'll sleep better and you'll be happy and healthy from the inside out.

So let’s just get down to business. When hunger hits and you missed the meal prep, here are my Top Five Tips to help you keep your glow while on the go.

1) Find the Fresh Food
If you're on the road and choose to stop at a fast-food joint, your food choices are limited to say the least. If you stop at a grocery store instead, you open your choices up to some whole and healthy options—fruits, bagged carrots, nuts, hummus—and if there is a salad bar, you’re golden!

2) Play it Smart - Pack Some Snacks
Okay, so you’re on the road and you don't have access to food at regular intervals—what do you do? You probably skip meals and make bad choices cause you’re ready to eat your own arm. The problem with this scenario is that your body responds as if it’s starving and goes into survival mode—cue the cortisol levels, then your metabolism slows way down to prevent you from dying of starvation.

So as an arm-eating alternative, be smart and always bring some healthy snacks with you. Keep some non-perishables in your car or bag, then pack perishable items in a little soft cooler if you can’t stock them in a refrigerator at the office. Keep it simple like nuts and seeds, homemade trail mix, veggies and hummus, Mary’s Crackers and avocado, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, maybe some unsweetened greek yogurt and berries. Boom, it’s that simple.

3. Keep Your Brain and Body Boosted
So, you’re busy and you skip a meal or two, no biggie, right? Wrong. There’s evidence that missing meals can negatively impact sugar and glucose levels in the body and can cause weight gain. Your body simply needs a steady supply of fuel to function properly.
Eating small amounts of healthy real food throughout the day will keep your body burning those calories more quickly. It also is a great way to keep your blood sugar stable—helping you stay energized and focused.

4. Get your Greens to Go
Greens are the number one nutrient dense food and also the number one food missing from the American diet. So, if you didn’t get a chance to whip up that green smoothie before you ran out the door, carry your greens with you. Powdered greens packets like Amazing Grass' Superfoods Packets are perfect for going green on the go. You can simply mix these packets with water and voila!

5. Conquer your Cravings
When you're constantly on the move, it's so important to avoid foods that drain your energy, fog your focus and diminish your mood.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Avoid Simple Carbs and High Glycemic Foods—sodas, juices, sugary snacks, breads and pastries
  • Ditch the Deep-Fried Foods
  • No Non-Fat, Low Fat Fake Foods and Sweeteners—these “foods” are loaded with chemicals that your body literally can't process
  • Pass on the Partially Hydrogenated Products—like non dairy creamer, Jiffy-style peanut butter, margarine, and most packaged baked goods
  • Back Off the Booze
  • Stay Hydrated -- don’t mistake thirst for hunger

With all these tips in mind, I created the Busy Gal’s On-The-Go Guide to help you always find your way to healthy habits. I break down snacking into three levels - Prime, Preferred and Primo. This way you can always find something healthy to enjoy no matter where you are—or how much time to have to grab a quick bite between meetings. Plus, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite recipes from my secret stash, like Sassy Sweet Potato Chips, to create ahead of time and keep on hand for those hangry emergencies.

This free downloadable guide will be your pocket pal to keep your sanity intact and your energy levels soaring no matter what the week throws at you. Download your copy here!

LOVE + Real Food,
Moniqua Plante

Transformer of the Month: Taylor Caprio


I was feeling really badly about myself and the way I looked last year after the scales tipped past 200 lbs and I was no longer fitting into any of my clothes. Even at 5’9, I could no longer hide the extra pounds, so I committed to making a change. I’m down 30 lbs since I started at The Studio (MDR) in October and the progress came amazingly quickly. It was 10 lbs per month for the first three months, which is a very healthy 2.5 lbs a week. By December I felt great with the progress I had made, and have since just been maintaining my results with 3 classes a week. I don’t do any other form of exercising anymore since this hits all the body parts and keeps my heart rate up for the full 50 minutes.

I’m so glad I found The Studio (MDR) and I am thankful to my best friend who had taken a few classes and introduced me to it. I thought the studio looked upscale, and the classes always looked full so that was a good sign! All of the studio locations are convenient to my apartment too, so the only thing holding me back was my fear that my current fitness level wouldn’t quite work with all the core exercises. I started by just doing what I could and the teachers were really helpful in offering modifications, and little by little I noticed after a few weeks of taking classes that I started to get stronger and was forming lines on the sides of my abdominals. Both made me really happy and feel encouraged!

After committing to workouts 3x a week I started making better nutritional choices that have helped me see results faster. Now I try to avoid bread at least 5 days a week, but I allow rice because I love sushi! I also cut back on drinking which is really hard when you’re single and dating, but I make it work. I keep everything I want to eat in my diet, just in moderation. I still eat anything I want, I just try to eat a lighter dinner if I had a treat like Yogurtland in the afternoon. I still eat pasta (no more than once a week) and ice cream (no more than once a week). Not feeling deprived allows me to actually enjoy the journey. It’s all about being mindful and finding a balance.

My practice keeps getting stronger thanks to the support of my instructors Stephanie, Olivia and Melissa - their instruction has helped me conquer poses I didn’t think I’d be capable of. For instance, one pose that I used to hate but now I love is ‘Teaser’. But I still HATE scrambled eggs, and I make it known that I hate it with lots of eye rolls and disappointed groans!

Overall I feel so much stronger physically and way more confident from where I started in October. I’ve noticed definition in my shoulders, arms, waist and legs. I plan to start taking a 4th class every week starting soon, so I am excited to see how much better my results will be!

3 Ways To Get Your Stretch In This Weekend

Have you stretched today? If you’ve taken a class at The Studio MDR today, the answer is YES! As you may have heard from your instructor, every move throughout class actually incorporates stretching. For example, MDR instructor, Svetlana, says “Reverse Crunch” doesn’t just help you recover — it also helps you stretch your spine. MDR instructor Mary echoes that and says all lunges, but particularly “Reverse Super Floor Lunge”, help build muscle while offering a great stretch too.

But maybe you want to take your stretch game to the next level— and it’s no wonder‚ stretching has a whole host of incredible benefits – some of our faves include helping you feel more alert, increasing your body awareness, warding off injury, and more.

So kick off your weekend with some zen and check out these 3 easy ways to feel more flexible by Monday:

1) Attend the Shred & Stretch or Mega Stretch class
While the majority of poses you do in the studio already incorporate a great stretch (everyone’s favorite, Child Pose, for example), we also have a couple classes with more of a stretching focus. Lindsay Hallam teaches MDR Shred & Stretch — which is 35 minutes of moves you’d typically do in a (MDR) Total Body class and is followed by 15 minutes of stretch-based poses. An awesome stretch that she incorporates is Pigeon Pose, a yogi favorite deemed the “King of Hip Openers.” Looking for even more stretch? Albina Katsman teaches a class called (MDR) Mega Stretch which utilizes ballet-inspired ideas and a focus on progressive core movements to heal and stretch your body.

2) Hit your local park and stretch it out
We’re finally starting to see some beautiful sunny, blue-skied days after a period of (much-needed) rain— take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head outdoors to get your stretch on. Spending time outdoors is scientifically proven to improve your health in a number of ways, elevating not only your mood, but also in aiding your body to fight against everything from cancer to heart attacks. Bring a yoga mat and work on some hip flexor stretches or use a park bench for a relaxing foldover stretch. We love using this list of essential stretches from Self for inspiration – your body will tell you what you need!

3) Incorporate stretching as part of your bedtime ritual
After a long day at work, the last thing you might want to do is add one more item to your list. But make room for this one— stretching is a great way to wind down from the stresses of a day, relax your mind and muscles, and prepare you for sleep. By doing some pre-bedtime stretching, you can actually improve the quality of your sleep and lower your stress levels. A good stretch to start with is “Rag Doll” - simply stand with your feet about hips distance apart, bend over and grab opposite elbows. Let your head hang freely, releasing all tension, and breathe. For more on pre-bedtime stretches, read on here.

What to Eat Before Class

What to Eat Before Class

Pre-workout: Sweet Potato Babe Bowl by Beyond Yoga

Pre-workout: Sweet Potato Babe Bowl by Beyond Yoga

How much do we love the Megaformer? Yep, thought so. You love it and hate it at the same time. It transforms our bodies and challenges us on some deep mental and physical levels. The athletic walk out stronger and the beginners walk out hopeful for where this new journey is going to take them.

Have you more often than not finished a class and said to your teacher “that was so hard today”? Wouldn’t you agree that all this effort and energy your body puts forth during this fifty-minute fitness ride warrants some fuel? It is extremely important to put the time into learning what it takes to fuel your body properly for a workout. But so often we are confronted by people that are making nutrition mistakes that throw off their game more than they know so…let’s BUST-A-MYTH (or two)!

MYTH: Eat tons of protein before a workout
FACT: Carbs and fat are the most optimal fuel source before tackling a high-intensity fitness class. Protein is what you save for the “post workout” re-fuel and repairing of muscles. Try this Berry Chard Protein Smoothie for post-fuel. If you're looking for a pre-working meal or snack, try something like this Sweet Potato Babe Bowl.

Post-workout: High Protein Smoothie by Beyond Yoga

Post-workout: High Protein Smoothie by Beyond Yoga


MYTH: Working out on an empty stomach can burn more fat.
FACT: If you’re looking to feel dizzy and weak then workout on an empty stomach…a drop in blood sugar isn’t a fun experience! Alternatively, I recommend eating 1/2 hour before your sweat sesh, so nutrients have time to absorb, breakdown and supply the proper energy. Eating is the new strong!

MYTH: If I eat before my workout I will get cramps.
FACT: If you eat 1/2 hour before your workout, you should not get cramps. A few of my fave go-to's and gentle-on-the-tummy foods include:
- Sweet potato
- Whole-wheat toast with a nut butter or avocado
- Oatmeal with cinnamon & walnuts
- Granola bar or my fave homemade Matcha Chocolate Date Bar

MYTH: I ate balanced meals all day so I don’t need to eat before a late evening class.
FACT: You still need that energy to make it through that 4th plank. Have a light nibble and then throw some protein in that bod post-workout like a protein smoothie or some lean meat. Your muscles are begging for that repair, but try to be mindful of eating heavy right before bedtime.

To sum it up, you want your wits about you when embarking in a The Studio (MDR) class - it requires thinking fast, executing precise movements, making smart choices and mindfulness to avoid injury. Proper care and feeding of your muscular system will get you one step closer to your body composition goal.

What You Really Want to Wear for Valentine’s Day

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, which gives you all the more reason to stay in and keep it cozy with your girls, hubby, or that special someone in your life! Instead of struggling to find the perfect Valentine’s Day restaurant and dress, add some romance to your dining room with a candlelit homemade dinner. We love this simple zucchini bolognese recipe alongside a glass of our favorite rosé to really make it feel like the special occasion it is.

Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a sweet (and healthy) treat. We won’t be feeling guilty when we indulge in these chocolate dipped apples and satsumas that are sure to satisfy sweet and savory cravings.

All that’s left is finding the perfect outfit…since we’re at home, we’re sticking to a comfy, cute look. These festive leggings and a flirty, peek-a-boo sweatshirt are now available at the Playa Vista studio and will be perfect for cuddling up on the couch. We can’t wait to end our night binge watching our favorite lovey-dovey movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, 50 Shades of Grey, and a classic, The Notebook.

MDR Bride Tribe

Do you hear wedding bells? Wedding season is still a few months away, but for brides-to-be at the studio, the time for hard work is now — those bells are already ringing loud and clear!

To help our brides-to-be make sure they look their very best on their big day, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our #MDRBrideTribe series. This is also a great opportunity for anyone looking to prepare for ANY big event where you want to make sure you look fantastic — a birthday, bikini season, The Oscars— the sky’s the limit.

What’s more, we’re excited to share that our very own founder, Lisa Hirsch, is getting married next month, so the timing for #MDRBrideTribe couldn’t be better!

To kick it off, here are some tips and tricks to help you fit perfectly into your wedding dress:

• Build a schedule and stick to it — consistency is key for killer results. If you’re 6 months away from your big day, our instructors recommend to start hitting the studio a minimum of 3 times a week for best results. 3 months out? Up the ante to 4 times a week. Also, keep in mind, in addition to your time at the studio, our instructors recommend that you add cardio into your routine at least 2-3x per week. This can be at least 30 minutes of spinning, running, hiking, rowing, swimming…anything that gets your heart rate up and you enjoy doing!

• Keep your dress style in mind and pick workout moves that target the areas you want to show off. Good news is since our workout is a total body workout, tone and functional strength come from most moves that we do. For instance, we are working our arms when we simply hold a plank or in our other essential moves like wheelbarrow and bear!
However, you can certainly bring your A game to the moves that matter most depending on your dress. Do you have a strapless dress? Put some extra effort into making sure your back and arms are toned and sculpted.  According to Studio MDR trainer Dana Sands, who used The Studio (MDR) to tone up for her own wedding, ‘Kneeling Lateral Pulls’ will help to sculpt your shoulders and back. Mermaid style? Slim and trim those thighs and hips to make sure your dress hugs your curves by crushing the move ‘Standing Outer Thighs’. Have other problem areas like dreaded love handles? We’ve got you covered — ‘French Twist’ will help to whittle your waist. Talk to your instructor and tell them what areas you want to target – they’ll tell you the moves you should work to perfect

• Set a concrete, specific goal and have a timeline. Is it to lose 5 pounds? An inch off your waist? Think about where you want to be on your special day, and create a concrete, specific goal. From there, you can work backwards to create a plan that starts today and be able to track your progress towards your goal. It’s often helpful to visualize your goal by creating a physical timeline and putting it up on your wall to make sure you stay on track.

• Abs were built in the kitchen — clean up your nutrition! We get it, anxiety over wedding planning might make you want to stress eat your weight in dark chocolate. But put down the chocolate bar, and you’ll thank yourself in a few months when your dress zips up without a hitch. In conjunction with your workout, cleaning up your diet is absolutely crucial. Substitute salty snacks like chips for nuts. Have a sweet tooth? Sub out cookies for some fruit to kick your sugar craving. Keep healthy snacks with you so you don’t slack while you’re on the go, and either trash any junk food lying around, or keep it out of sight so you’re not tempted to cheat.  

You don’t have to do this all at once either. Take more strides to eat cleaner as the date gets closer. Instructor Dana went cold turkey and cut sugars and carbs 3 months before her wedding date. Her diet focused on lean meats, veggies, drinking tons of water and she snacked on things like hard boiled eggs, seaweed, carrots and hummus. She also made smoothies every morning packed with veggies and superfoods like chia, flax, almond milk, Sun Warrior protein and almond or cashew butter. Another tip she swears by is to make sure you have your last meal before 7pm every night.

We want to hear from you! What’s working best for you? What are you struggling with? Share posts on Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter and tag us @thestudiomdr and hashtag #MDRBrideTribe. Share what your goals are, comment on other bride’s posts to see how they’re doing, and offer support and tips on what’s worked well for you.

We know that it can be really tough to stay accountable to yourself — to help with this, there’s a sign-up sheet at the front desk to sign up for a #MDRBrideTribe “Accountability Buddy” program. The idea is to connect amazing community members to one another to help you keep each other accountable as you go. This can be as flexible as you want it to be — you can send each other text messages at the beginning and end of each week checking in to share small wins and struggles. If you do choose to participate, be on the lookout for an email from us on who your accountability is so you can connect — exciting!

A quick word on what’s coming up: stay tuned in the coming weeks for an exclusive interview with our founder Lisa to learn what she’s doing to prepare in the final moments before her big day. We’ll also share some nutrition tips to help you prepare for yours!