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Transformer Of The Month


Transformer of the Month: Joanne Taraszka

Joanne After giving birth to her third baby, this busy mom had a tough time losing weight and getting back into her pre-pregnancy workout routine. Now, she’s down 18 pounds and up immeasurably in confidence and happiness. Here’s her story.

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What was it like walking in to The Studio (MDR) for the first time?

My first thought when I walked in was, "OMG, this place is so pretty!" And I remember taking class with Stephanie, who is a teacher now! When I look back, the first two things that come to mind are the bright pink ceiling with the beautiful ambience and Stephanie making me feel so welcome.

Be honest: How tough was that first class?

My first class was an “All Levels” with Dana. I got to The Studio (MDR) in the final few minutes of the class before mine, and as I watched some of the moves, I thought, “OK, that seems manageable—doesn't look too hard." Dana gave me a crash course on the Megaformer, which was alot of info at the time, but I figured I'd be fine because she assured me I would be. Then the class started and it was so hard! The others in the last class (who were drenched in sweat within a minute, by the way) made it look so easy, and there I was, struggling through every single move. Dana helped me so much through the class, and I’ll never forget how shakey I was all over. My legs were crushed, and I was sore for a week. I knew I had landed on a body-changing workout and couldn’t wait to go back for more.

What was your starting point?

I have three daughters; my youngest is 2 and after that last pregnancy, I lost track of all physical activity. I used to be active, going to a gym and doing at-home workouts, but somehow I got "busy" and my gym routine took a back seat. Most the weight I gained during my last pregnancy stayed with me, and I was unhappy and insecure with myself. It saddened me that I couldn't fit the clothes I had in my closet, and I was also tired all the time. So, I made time in to go back to the gym, but it wasn't enough. I knew I needed more. I researched “the best workouts in LA” and that's how I found The Studio (MDR). When I first started taking classes, I was a size 10/12.

In the beginning, I was discouraged because I didn't see a big change right away, but Lindsay really helped me alot, urging me to trust the process. Lindsay was a constant source of motivation; she encouraged me to be patient in my training. And sure enough, like Lindsay promised, I started to feel a difference in my clothes. I stopped weighing myself and started thinking of my (MDR) classes as the most rewarding 50 minutes of "me-time."

Did you have any setbacks along your path of transformation? Any times where you got off-track, or wanted to give up?

I created my own setback once—by overtraining. I was too hard on myself and felt I needed to take a class at (MDR) everyday if I could. Then, one day after I finished a class, I felt an extreme discomfort in my shoulder. It may have been a strained muscle. I had no choice but to rest and I couldn't go to classes for a week. I think I needed that eye-opener to embrace the importance of the "rest-days" with this method.

There were also many times when I found myself wanting to give up, but I remind myself that I've come this far—so I need to follow through. I used to be intimidated whenever I walked into a class because the others working out next to me seemed so much stronger, fitter, and better at each move. Now, I’m not discouraged by that and instead, I use it as my motivation to help push me through.


How far have you come?

In the 7 months I have been taking classes at (MDR), I can say with confidence that I have come a long way—not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. When I first started, I couldn’t hold plank for even 15 seconds. Each class, I held it a little longer, and a little longer, and when the plank challenge in the beginning of this year happened, I held for almost 4 minutes on my elbows.

I've lost 18 pounds to date and dropped two dress sizes. I didn't realize how much I transformed on the outside until I saw a picture of myself from March 2014. More importantly, I’ve transformed on the inside as well. I'm just happier. I've never felt so good about myself or so comfortable in my own skin.

Now that you’ve come so far, where are you looking toward going from here?

After 7 months at The Studio (MDR), I can honestly say I've found a new me—a better me. I realize now that I'm a constant work in progress, so I have many goals when it comes to my (MDR) sessions. But my one biggest goal is to finish a class with a seamless transition in sequences, without stopping or modifying. I have my work cut out for me because I'm still constantly trying to master alot of the moves and do it in perfect form. But with the guidance and patience everyone here continuously shows me, I know I will get there.



Transformer of the Month: Cristina Jackson

When a nagging knee injury and a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis threatened to keep this warrior down, she made a change—and hasn’t looked back. Check out her transformation here. photo1

What inspired you to check out The Studio (MDR)?

Before age 25, I had four knee surgeries on my left knee for meniscus tears and a juvenile rheumatoid arthritis beginning at age 12. I had honestly given up on exercising or being active, as my last knee injury happened during my first month of trying yoga—a practice I was hoping would be a solution for my joint pain and stress. I was having lots of pain all over my body. Some days it was hard to get out of bed, and my knee was still weak. I had seen The Studio (MDR) many times while walking to the beach, but always thought I wouldn’t be able to do the workout. I thought I just wasn’t strong enough. In May of 2013 I was in Lima, Peru for work, and I was so exhausted and couldn’t keep up. I finally became tired of feeling much older than I was and decided that the day I got back to the U.S. I would take the Beginner’s Class at the studio. In fact, I signed up for the 7- day package while I was in Peru! After my first week of classes, I signed up for the 3-month package. Now over a year later I’m not looking back. Trying that first class was one of the best choices I have made.

How tough was that first class—and what were you thinking when it was over?

My first class was “The Enlighten Me” beginner class with Mary and Lisa. I really loved how they sat down with us and explained the machines so they didn’t seem so scary, and talked to us about the studio and how it was more than just a place to exercise. I remember my first class was tough—especially getting used to the right positions to avoid injuries or aggravating my knee—but I left the class exhilarated. I remember being more sore the next day than I have ever felt in my life, but I was excited about this soreness. I had earned it. After my first week I was sore all over, but my normal knee and joint pain was already gone. I had never felt better.

What’s been a big challenge in your life that you’ve found The Studio (MDR) has helped you overcome?

Over the years I have become accustomed to being in pain and not being as active as my peers. I just figured this is how it was going to be. Going the studio has completely changed how I feel about myself. I feel so much stronger than I ever thought I could feel. I still have my limits with my knee, but I’ve accepted that as a part of me and now I focus on what I can do and not what I can’t. I am also the kind of person that physically feels stress, and my workouts have helped me deal with my stress in a productive way. I leave class feeling great—so much more relaxed and confident that I can handle whatever life brings.

What’s the one move that still makes you curse inside because it’s so hard?!

Bungee. It’s not the most difficult move, but it kills me every time. Also, hamstring curls where we lay down on the machine. I still haven’t mastered those.

How far have you come—and where are you going? 

When I started taking classes at the studio, I really just wanted to see if I could feel better. I wanted to wake up feeling energized. I really hadn’t thought about the other physical changes I might see (but I took a “before” picture anyway, so I could determine if my hard work was doing anything!).

I’ve been the same size since college, but now the love handles are gone, my stomach is flat and I have muscle definition in my arms and back. I can feel it in my face, too. I just feel so much better all around and love feeling strong.


Transformer of the Month: Erica Brettler


Transformer of the Month: Erica Brettler


Transformer 1. Tell us a little about your career! How’d you get your start, and can you talk a little about the pressures to look a certain way?

I’ve been acting since I was a kid. I did my first TV commercial when I was 3. It was for those Fischer Price Teddy Bears that teach you how to button buttons and zip zippers. I remember for my audition they asked me what my favorite food was, and I screamed “I LOOOOOVE CHICKEN!!!” I still do. But I was a musical theatre nerd, and after I graduated from NYU I did a ton of regional theatre till I made my Broadway debut in the Original Broadway Cast of Jersey Boys. I did that for three years and then moved to Los Angeles. I’ve been doing a lot of commercials and guest stars on TV episodes, but the Jersey Boys film and working with Clint Eastwood has been my most exciting project yet. And yes, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t feel pressure to look a certain way in this business. I was never an athletic person, always the last kid picked for teams in P.E., and I’m the child of Italian immigrants, so food is literally everything to me. I’m a “big bowl of pasta” kind of girl. And it took me a long time to realize that eating that way every day, while comforting and delicious, wasn’t making me feel very good. I started working out and eating a bit healthier when I was rehearsing for Jersey Boys on Broadway. Something about making my Broadway debut felt like the opportunity to "perfect the package.” I thought not being in the best shape of my life for my debut would be somehow lazy or ungrateful. So I’d take a spin class before rehearsal and then we’d have previews at night. It soon became 2 spin classes a day, even on two-show days, and eating Tasti-D-Lite for dinner (a 60-calorie frozen yogurt brand in NYC). It got to the point that my director told me to gain weight. He would say “you lost your CURVES!” I was definitely obsessive. Literally the next day I was like, “I can’t maintain this long term. And I’m tired." I started eating normally and spinning only in the morning. But it was tough. Every day, you’re putting on the same tiny costumes and when you eat a big dinner and your dresser is struggling to zip your dress, you feel bad. Here in LA, the pressure to look a certain way is even greater. People send you out on auditions for characters described as “smoking hot” and you go, crap, I have to be that? Like, all the time?

2. How did you find The Studio (MDR)?

I found the Studio through my husband’s co-worker, Christy. He told me this girl he works with takes this Pilates class that is the hardest class she’s ever taken. I said to him “Ugh, Pilates is so boring, and it hurts my neck.” At the time, I was comfortable in my routine of spin followed by power yoga. I called it the “goddess workout” because that's literally how I felt afterwards. And the yoga was great for my brain. But I noticed my BODY HADN’T CHANGED. At all. So the competitive person in me was like, fine, let me see what all the fuss is about. I took one class and was like “WHAAAAAT?!” I’d never been more sore in my life. And I saw results THE NEXT DAY. I wondered why the other workouts I was doing weren’t making me sore. So I joined the studio right away. It’s so NOT Pilates. It’s bananas, is what it is.

3. How have you transformed — not just physically — thanks to this workout?

Working out at The Studio (MDR) has totally transformed me. Every class I take feels like the hardest class I’ve done yet. I remember one class recently where I literally uttered the words “Oh God, why?!” out loud. (I think it was during yet another set of "bungee" that I couldn’t believe was happening). But I might have a really important callback that day, and getting through a class that’s so hard makes me think, "well, I’ve already achieved something gut-wrenchingly difficult today, so this callback will be a breeze.” Also, the class makes me feel like some kind of beast! It’s so empowering, and it helps me feel like a boss all day. And physically, yeah, I always hated my butt. It has a distinct tendency to go horizontal. This class has told my butt to shut up, while still allowing it to have a personality.

4. What was your goal when you first walked through the doors of The Studio (MDR), and have you reached them? What are your new goals?

Honestly, I’ve never been a big goal-setter. My goal when I walked into my first class, and every day still, is to show up. Get through the class. No matter what happens, just GO. But I would like to take fewer breaks and speed up my transitions. I tend to stop a lot too, you know, to curse and wipe sweat. I’ve noticed though that I’m a lot stronger than I was. There are times I’m holding plank and I can’t believe how long I can hold it. Makes me proud.

Los Angeles Fest Closing Night Jersey Boys

5. What’s next for you career wise? And how will The Studio (MDR) continue to help you along your path?

I have another movie coming out called “Boychoir.” It’s an indie film with Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, and so many other greats. I’m also in an episode of “Mad Men” coming out in 2015. And I just got a part on “Hart of Dixie” that I’m shooting this week. You better believe I’m gonna be at the Studio (MDR) every morning I’m working on these shows. It’s become a no-brainer in my routine, like breathing. And it’s taught me to find joy in the struggle. When I’m holding plank and my whole body is trembling, I tell myself what I’m feeling is just sensation. I try to smile and go to that happy place in my mind. I use that in my daily life. Nothing is as hard as we trick ourselves into thinking it is. Because after a few minutes, it’s over. I’m mentally stronger than I was. And physically, I’m more lean and fit than I was back in NYC when I just wanted to be skinny. Skinny is boring. It’s been done. Fit people look better naked. Fit is where it’s at. Raaawr!


Transformer of the Month: Mary Alvarez

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Transformer of the Month: Mary Alvarez


Mary - Before & After

This grandmother (and mom to trainer Tina!) just turned 60—and everyone is telling her she’s “sexy and 60!” Here’s her story …

1. How did you find The Studio (MDR) and how were you feeling before you took your first class?

I found the studio through my daughter, Tina, who is an instructor at The Studio (MDR). I love working out but found it difficult to motivate myself to go to the gym at times. The minute I took my first class at The Studio (MDR), I became obsessed. I drive from Torrance to take classes! I spend about 6 hours of just drive time to work out here—and I have a gym around the block from me and in my spare room at home. But spending the time getting to classes is worth it. Not only are my clothes fitting better, but my strength has also changed drastically. I love feeling strong after just turning 60. I am a grandmother, and The Studio (MDR) has definitely made me feel young and strong when I’m chasing my grandkids and doggies around.

2. Describe your first class.

My first class —don’t ask me what I was thinking! I felt weak but so motivated. The energy made me feel determined. I was immediately addicted and knew instantly that this workout would become a part of my ritual. Now this is the only exercise I do. For me, three times a week at The Studio (MDR) and eating as healthy as possible is keeping me where I want to be in life. Even my doctor has noticed a huge difference.

3. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

I have to say that “Bear” is my nemesis move. I find it so hard after having a hysterectomy. I feel so weak in my lower abs after that surgery, but all of the modifications make me feel like I am still hitting the same muscles. I can just hold a plank or go to the front and I know that slowly but surely I will be able to do “Bear” for the entire 60 seconds without breaking or modifying.

4. What’s been your biggest victory so far?

My biggest victory is knowing that I am stronger than ever. I know this is mind over matter. I can walk into The Studio (MDR) with a headache or just feeling exhausted and leave knowing that I feel better. I am constantly transforming mentally and physically. I just turned 60 on April 1st and I can honestly say I have never felt better. I feel strong and comfortable in my skin. My friends and family say I am “Sexy and Sixty.” As much as that slightly embarrasses me, it is quite a compliment and very flattering!

5. What are your fitness and life goals going forward, and how are your workouts at The Studio (MDR) going to help you achieve those goals?

My current goal is to eat cleaner. Tina is always challenging me and asking me about my diet and what I’m cooking. I notice such a difference not only in how flat my stomach is when I eat clean, but also that I am stronger in class.

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Transformer of the Month: Jean Okuda


Transformer of the Month: Jean Okuda


Before & After!

How’d you find The Studio (MDR)?

My friends -- Kristin, Andrea, Helen and Aaryn – raved about the workouts, and I knew where (MDR) was because I drive down Washington all the time. I don't know why it took me so long to join, but I haven't looked back since! The Studio (MDR) is my outlet, my drug of choice, my addiction.

What was your starting point when you took your first class? 

When I first started, I was feeling pretty "blah." I didn't feel great about my body; I wasn't overweight, but I knew I could be in better shape. I was in a rut. I was 160 pounds, a size 8 or 10, and I could barely fit into my jeans/work clothing. I was a die-hard spin lover, spinning for 10 years almost three times a week. I was also taking yoga classes, but not very often. I thought if I did more cardio my body would become more lean. While that is true for some, my body hit a major plateau. Plus, my lower back was in constant pain. I needed a change and I needed it ASAP. I wake up at 3 a.m. for work and I was struggling to find places with classes early enough for me to take. I am not a big gym person (been there, done that) and it was hard finding a gym or studio to accommodate my lifestyle … until I found The Studio (MDR).

How tough was your first class?

I took my first class in July 2013 with Mary. I was very nervous because everyone was so fit and I thought, "What if fall on my face?" The class was so difficult. My entire body was shaking and I was pouring sweat within 5 minutes. I was light headed after class and could barely speak; my hands were shaking too! Mary was so nice to me before, during, and after class. She has such amazing energy! I thought, "Wow, whatever she is on, I want some!" Everyone else was so nice to me as well. Lisa was sitting at the front desk when I walked into the studio for the first time and said "Hi Jean!" with a big smile. I had e-mailed her prior to class to ask a few questions and the fact that Lisa knew who I was meant a lot to me. I even remember it being one of Elizabeth's first days at The Studio (MDR), and she's been greeting me with her smile and sweetness ever since.

What challenges have you faced, and what were some of your big (and little) victories that kept you motivated?

My main challenge during my transformation process has been fatigue. Since I wake up so early for work, I get tired very easily. In the very beginning, I took four classes in one week and I learned my lesson! I realized I can't do that -- I need to let my body rest. Now I take three classes a week and I am consistent. I truly believe that dedication and consistency are essential! The biggest victory for me has been being able to hold plank without dropping to my knees. Also, my focus and breathing has changed since I've started taking classes at The Studio (MDR). Of course I have good days and bad days, so I set mini goals for myself. You have to be realistic or you will set yourself up for a letdown when you don't accomplish something. Someday I will do "Saw" without dropping to my knees. Someday I will get through the entire lunge series without holding the black bars. These goals keep me strong and motivated. It’s all about the baby steps.

Have you changed your diet?

Yes! I am much more conscious of my eating habits. I do not believe in dieting or restricting myself from anything; I’m more of an "everything in moderation" kind of eater. If I want a cheeseburger, guess what? I am going to have it! I will just eat half of it and save the rest for the next day. I don't beat myself up for enjoying food. If I have a bad day and pig out, I enjoy it and just work out that much harder to work it off.

How far have you come since that first class, and what are your new goals?

Right now I’m at the point where I probably need to buy new clothes because my old ones are too big for me! I am also in a great place mentally, physically and emotionally. I love my family, friends and my job (the three most important things in my life). My biggest goals now are to complete the infamous 8-minute plank, complete a class without taking a single break, and to encourage others to get fit! I have gotten five other girlfriends to sign up for classes at The Studio (MDR) and they love it.


Transformer of the Month: Lisa Avery

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Transformer of the Month: Lisa Avery


Lisa - Before & After

This warrior took her first class with the simple goal of not falling off the machine! Now, she’s 32 pounds lighter and had to shop for a new wardrobe when she went from a size 8 to a size 4. Here’s her story.

How did you find The Studio (MDR)?

Actually, The Studio (MDR) found me. I was taking classes for a short time at another studio where Jessi were previously teaching. After my first class, I literally could not move for several days. While I’d initially only wanted to do SPX for one month, after the first day I was hooked. It was like nothing I had ever experienced.

Tell us a little more about that first class, and your initial goals …

I was hoping not to fall of the machine! I have exercised all my life. I always had personal trainers and private classes but I was getting older and my body seemed to be slowing down. I also stopped smoking after 32 years and gained a lot of weight as a result. People constantly referred to me as “thick.” When I first started working out at The Studio (MDR), my goals were to change my body shape -- not just lose weight. I wanted to re-shape my body and build my endurance to get as strong as possible.

What were some of your first challenges you had to face?

When I started at The Studio (MDR) I had extreme problems with my back and hips. I couldn’t even hold a plank without going to my knees, and almost every exercise would cause me a great deal of pain in my back as well as my hips. I discussed my issues with the wonderful instructors and they would all modify certain moves and guide and help me through it all. Pretty quickly, I started getting so strong in my core that my back pain disappeared altogether.

How has The Studio (MDR) changed your life?

For starters, I have far exceeded my initial goal of getting uber-fit and strong. I was 154 pounds and a size 8 at my heaviest; now I’m down to 122 and a size 4. It was so much fun buying all new clothes! In addition to working out at The Studio (MDR), I also completely changed what I eat. I am living my life gluten free, I limit my carbs, and I eat primarily protein and vegetables. And I am loving it! Even better, my life has become so much fuller with all the new friends I have made at The Studio (MDR). Everyone is so inspiring and motivated. I found it so helpful and supportive when Lisa invited The Studio (MDR) to do the Cleanse Challenges. I have become very close with several women at The Studio (MDR) and often socialize with them outside of class. I am grateful for so many wonderful friends that I have made here.

Any advice to those who are inspired by your success?

My advice is to not over-train; I have done that in the past, not allowing my body to recover, and it wasn’t helpful at all. In fact, I found that I lost more inches when I slowed down and gave my body a break between workouts. Also, it’s crucial to realize that diet is at least 50 percent of the equation when it comes to fitness, and that includes staying well hydrated.

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Transformer of the Month


Transformer of the Month


Nicole - Before & After Nicole Schroeder has always worked out, but she came to The Studio (MDR) when logging hours at the gym wasn’t helping her drop those hard-to-lose last 10 pounds. Not only has she dropped that weight but she’s also toned up in ways she never thought possible. Here’s her story …

What prompted you to start taking classes at The Studio (MDR)?

I’ve always been very focused on being healthy, working out, and doing something for my mind. I used to go to the gym 5 to 6 times a week, where I mostly did cardio. I hit a point where I felt I needed a change to my routine to really get toned. So I actually bought a Lifebooker deal for The Studio (MDR) not knowing what was about to happen to my body and mind. I always liked Pilates and thought, OK let's try this "Pilates" studio. Clearly, I had no idea that this was not a traditional Pilates studio, but I was excited to try it.

My first class was with Mary, and I remember just trying to keep up! Mary was wonderful, and helped me through the class with the correct form and modifications. The one thing she kept repeating that has stuck with me to this day is "tuck your pelvis". I had no clue what she even meant back then! At the end of the class I was sweaty and exhausted but felt good. The day after I was quite sore, and thought to myself, OK I can do this once a week. I now go to The Studio (MDR) 3 to 5 times a week depending on my schedule!

What's been your biggest achievement in class?

Every week and month I have little achievements. My first one was after a couple of months, when I was able to a get through exercises like reverse wheelbarrow, reverse catfish, donkey kickbacks, and scrambled eggs (so incredibly hard for me!) without stopping. Also, my form during the exercises got much better, which Lindsay mentioned several times to me. This made me feel good and pushed me even harder. When I started taking classes, I knew I would hit new achievements, and I did. The biggest one in classes was using two yellow springs instead of one. OMG, it was so hard! When I was able to do reverse catfish with two yellow springs it was an amazing accomplishment for me. The second one happened a few weeks ago when we had to hold a 5-minute plank. I was not able to hold a plank the entire 5 minutes, but I did 2 minutes and 30 seconds, which was a big milestone for myself. Based on all the little achievements I have made during my time at The Studio (MDR), I know my body and mind have gotten much stronger.

How far have you come, and what are your new goals?

Since I started taking classes at The Studio (MDR) I have lost those annoying “last 10 pounds.” My shoulders, arms, and legs are more toned; my posture is better than before, and I finally see some upper abs, which I’m probably most excited about. My new goal is to work even harder and push myself when I want to give up. I’d like to be able to close the carriage while doing a side squat without holding the rope, and I am working on doing reverse plank to pipe without stopping.

It’s hard to find the right words to describe how much of a positive influence The Studio (MDR) has had in my life. Every single person is so helpful, whether it is Lisa, the instructors, the front desk, or the other students. I have gained much more confidence personally and professionally by going to The Studio (MDR).  The energy is so incredibly positive that it is contagious.

Another important aspect of my transformation is something MDR planted in my head. They always tells us that we are beautiful, and that we are doing all of this hard work for us – not anyone else. They tells us that we do not need to change; we need to accept ourselves for who we are. This has been very inspiring to me because it is true. I work out because I want to be healthy, and I want to be in shape. I am not doing it for my boyfriend, for my family, or for any of my friends. It is all because of and for ME.


Transformer of the Month: Kevin Koda


Transformer of the Month: Kevin Koda


Before & After

After a previous relationship had packed on extra pounds, Kevin took his first class. Now, he’s down five inches around his waist, four inches around each thigh, and has gained five pounds of muscle! Here’s his story …

1. What prompted you to start taking classes at The Studio (MDR), and what was your starting point?

Gina Barrios has been telling me about The Studio (MDR) for a very long time, but it wasn’t until another friend of mine suggested we take a class that I actually decided to go. I thought I was in pretty good shape; I went running four or five times a week and went to the gym about three times a week. But I have to admit my clothes were feeling a bit tighter and I couldn't fit into half of my wardrobe. I had gained quite a bit of weight during my previous relationship, and I wanted to get back into pre-relationship shape.

2. Tell us a little about that first class! What did you think … and how did you feel after class and the next day?

My first class was with Mary. She was awesome and I was beat up! It was definitely one of the hardest things I had done physically in my life.  I kept thinking during class, "Oh, that's going to hurt tomorrow."  And I was right, all of those parts of my body hurt the next day. But I felt like I had so much more energy and clarity of mind -- even with the soreness.

3. What's been your biggest achievement in class?

I think it was rising to challenges. I remember one time he asked me to put on three yellow springs. I don't think he thought I was going to do it, but I did. (Even I didn't think I was going to do it at first.) I think the best feeling I’ve had so far was when I was able to do Giant Bear with three yellow springs. That, by far, was the hardest thing I've had to try in class. The amount of abdominal muscle output one has to use in order for your toes not to slip right off the platform is unimaginable to someone like me.  To perform an exercise with an added level of difficulty the first time and not fail … it was mind blowing, and a major eye opener for me on just how far I really have come.

4. How much weight have you lost, and what are your new goals?

The last time I weighed myself I had gained about 5 lbs but lost about 5 inches around my midsection and about 4 inches in each thigh. (All of my pants fit again, and I'm back down to 33-34 waist.) My chest and arms actually have some definition now and shirts are no longer a hindrance to my breathing. In addition to how I look, I feel like I've come a long way in terms of fitness. My stamina amazes me and the level of energy I can maintain throughout the day is much improved. Class doesn't seem as intimidating as before, and I'm able to sustain each exercise a lot longer than when I first started. As for my future goals? I want to continue to get into the best shape I can and also try to help others do the same thing. I truly believe in what the The Studio (MDR) is doing and would hope to bring more people like myself to this community and inspire them to start their journey toward being the best they can be.

5. How is The Studio (MDR) changing other aspects of your life?

Really, I think the most important thing that I've gotten from The Studio (MDR) is confidence. I feel much more confident in all situations. Whether it’s dating, work or just a social situation, I stand taller and assert myself with a level of confidence that hasn't been there before. If I can survive 50 minutes of this workout , then I figure I can survive any situation that’s thrown at me. Even my friends have commented that I look taller. I'm still 5'10".  I guess what they see is my gains from going to The Studio (MDR) for the past few months!


Transformer of the Month: Orla Dirks


Transformer of the Month: Orla Dirks


 fOrla Dirks - Before & After Two years ago, this warrior was hit by a truck -- literally. She suffered broken teeth and bones, and serious head trauma. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a year later she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Now, she’s doing push-ups off her toes and is an inspiration to us all…

1. How did you find The Studio (MDR) and what inspired you to start taking classes?

Mary Miller is a good friend of mine from college, and when I moved back to LA at the beginning of the year, our friend Sara DRAGGED me to The Studio (MDR) to check out Mary’s class. I was recovering from some serious injuries, as well as coming off two years of a very junk food-filled, sedentary life. I was petrified I would throw up, pass out, cry, or all three. But I was glad Sara made me go because after that first class, I came home sweaty and inspired.

2. What kind of serious injuries were you dealing with?

Two years ago, while living in New York City, I was run over by a Bud Light delivery truck as I was crossing the street. I sustained many injuries, including lost teeth, broken bones, and head trauma.  I was shipped back to California, where I spent months having surgeries and recovering. Then, a year ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and I underwent surgery to remove my thyroid.

Needless to say I was in a dark place. I did no physical activity, ate and drank CRAP every night, and gained 15 lbs. My boyfriend and I, along with our dog and cat, moved back to LA at the beginning of the year. I'm blessed with a supportive family, amazing network of friends, and a great boyfriend who all gave me so much love and encouraged me to be more active and healthy. Maybe it's the California vitamin D, the support I get from my loved ones (and new FIANCÉ!), or the fact that I can hold plank (sometimes), but since overcoming the challenges of the past few years I am stronger and most importantly happier than ever before.

3. We hear you’re a bonafide Studio (MDR) addict! Did you ever think you'd look forward to working out like you do now?

Since taking classes at The Studio (MDR), I have lost almost 10 lbs and I can actually do a push up. My clothes fit better, I feel more confident, and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I hold plank without modifying. I also love the community at the studio. I took my first class here because I knew Mary and some friends from college, but since attending weekly classes, I've gotten to know other regulars and I love watching their progress almost as much as I like seeing mine! I actually look forward to my sweat sessions at The Studio (MDR) … and I'm obsessed with those vanilla shakes!

4. What goals have you achieved since you started taking classes at The Studio (MDR)? And what are the new goals that you've set for yourself?

I was physically broken when I took my first class at The Studio (MDR). I was totally out of shape. So at first, my goal was simply not to throw up mid workout. A few months after starting to take classes regularly, I wanted to do a real push-up without modifying on my knees, and last month I was able to do two in a row. It sounds like a tiny accomplishment, but it’s these attainable goals that keep me motivated. My new goal is to do an entire abs class without modification by December, and by April I hope to be brave enough for one of the classes. I recently got engaged, so my long-term goal is to look like Mary by next October, in time for my wedding.

5. What's your best advice for fellow (MDR) classmates who are struggling -- whether they're struggling to hold plank without dropping or having a rough time with something else in their life? What would you say to someone who's hitting a rough patch to help them through it?

I've learned that with any challenge, there is no such thing as a quick fix. If you want to be healthy, lose weight, or be happy, you have to create a lifestyle change. It's about building habits and being patient. I did not see the physical results I wanted in the first few months of working out, and then one day I put on a bikini and I didn't want to break the mirror. This also goes for breakups, losses, or sad days. I believe everything improves with time, and when you create positive habits, the changes last. I also don't think there is any shame in modification. Listen to your body and take your time.


Transformers of the Month: Wenyi and Victor


Transformers of the Month: Wenyi and Victor


TranformersWhen Wenyi and Victor were looking for a fitness studio that offered late-night classes to accommodate their busy schedules, they had no idea how The Studio (MDR) would transform not only their bodies, but also their lives. Here’s their story.

1. How did you find The Studio (MDR)? Tell us a little bit about your first class. Did you find it challenging?

Wenyi found The Studio (MDR) while searching for a workout studio or gym that offered later evening classes, and she stumbled upon (MDR). Our first class was the Intro class on a Sunday 8 months ago, and almost the entire team was there.  We did maybe only 15 minutes of the simple wheelbarrows, plank to pike, plank, etc. and we were already dying.  For some strange reason, when Wenyi asked if I want to sign up for the 1 week special, I surprisingly said YES … and the rest is history.

2. Did you come to The Studio (MDR) together, or did one of you inspire the other to start taking classes? And do you take classes together or separately?

The best part of (MDR) is that we both finally found an exercise that we can do together and most importantly, have a class schedule that fits perfectly into our schedule (9:15 p.m. classes are the best). For the last 10 years, Wenyi has always occasionally done some forms of exercise (yoga, swimming, etc.) but was never able to find something that motivated her to go consistently.  I, on the other hand, am probably the most anti-exercise person you’ll meet. I didn't do any exercise at all for the last 10+ years and was completely proud of that.  While my friends who continued to play sports or exercise were complaining about pain and surgeries, I was always laughing at them because I had no pain since I didn't do any athletic activities.  Now, we always take classes together.  It is just so awesome that we can share this journey together and can laugh at each other when we can't even move our legs or when our butts are in pain from the bungee.

3. What were your goals when you first started taking classes? Did you want to lose weight? Tone up? Feel better about yourselves/how you looked?

Initially, there were no goals.  I think we just simply wanted to find some exercise class that we could do together and that made us work up a good sweat. Soon after we started taking classes, we both had our own goals. Wenyi wanted to tone up, and I just wanted to be healthier.  I had tons of skin allergies in 2012 and I was miserable. My face was always red and blotchy along with body itch that made me sleepless. No doctor or medicine made me feel better. One month into taking classes at (MDR) and my skin started improving. Now I feel great! I guess I just needed to sweat out all the toxins inside.

4. What have been some of your biggest challenges along the way? Was there a point when you stopped coming to classes? Gave up when you were holding plank? And how have you overcome some of those challenges?

Surprisingly we didn't encounter any big challenges that discouraged us from coming. We were and still are surprised by how quickly this became a part of our everyday routine. We constantly think about class and can't wait to get to the Studio.  Even a two-day break seems too long now! We still can't believe we would ever think this way about an exercise class. After so many months, we still find each and every move challenging. You would think we would know how to do the wheel barrel by now, but still, sometimes a muscle is finally strong enough to do what it is supposed to do and then you are like, OHHHH, so this is what the teachers meant all this time!

5. Tell us a little about your biggest victory so far? How'd you do it, and how'd you feel?

Our biggest accomplishment so far is definitely our stronger bodies and smaller clothes sizes. We have also introduced some of our friends to (MDR).  They live over an hour away but they are just as hooked as we are now. Our usual get-togethers are now (MDR) class with the reward of a nice meal afterward. We have changed our entire lifestyle, cutting out drinking during the week. Wenyi used to drink every night to help her sleep and now it’s no longer necessary. We feel fantastic! 

6. What are your goals now?

Our goal is to keep going. We will continue a three-day-a-week routine and occasionally throw in a fourth class. We are really proud of each other for continuing this healthy habit. Wenyi has bought jeans that are smaller than ever and I put on my wedding suit from 10 years ago and it fit perfectly. We will continue to challenge ourselves on class stamina and would love to do an entire class without any breaks one day. We just feel so grateful to Lisa for opening the Studio (MDR), and to Lindsay for kicking our butts every other day!


Transformer of the Month: Tammy Dunkley Nikolov


Transformer of the Month: Tammy Dunkley Nikolov


Before & After  Tammy Nikolov When Tammy faced a series of low points last year, the weight piled on … as did the self-pity. Here’s how The Studio (MDR) helped her transform her body and her attitude. 

How did you find The Studio (MDR)? And what was your first class like?

I live in the neighborhood and would always slow down when I saw a class was taking place, but I was too scared to stop and go in. I finally got the guts to stop one day, and Lisa was sitting behind the desk. She could see by the look on my face that I was terrified, and she seemed to know I had struggled to work up the courage to come in. She was so kind to me; she helped me sign up and made me feel at ease. Lisa took the time to listen to my story and assured me that I had come to the right place. My first class was with Jessi. I decided to take the MegaMamas class, as I thought it would be more my speed. Jessi was so sweet and knew I needed a little extra hand-holding. The Mommas in the class were all pregnant except for me and they ran circles around me. I thought, If they can do this pregnant, I can do this. I put my fear behind me and just started following the movements and watching my form. Before I knew it I was moving along with the class.

What were your goals when you first started taking classes?

I have a 2-year-old little girl and I put on quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy. I never really got back to my regular size. Also, 2011 was a tough year for me. I had a variety of emotionally challenging events happen in my life. I had an accident that required surgery to repair some nerve and tendon damage in my hand, and I lost my father. Those were just a few things on a long list of lows. Pity Party for one please! And so I let the weight pile on.

After turning 40 in 2012, I could see and feel the changes in my body. I knew that the longer I waited to make changes in my life, the harder it would be to get to where I wanted to be and needed to be for my health. I was stuck in a rut and had to get the weight off. More importantly, I wanted to stop feeling sorry for myself. The Studio (MDR) gave me the opportunity to make that happen.  All I needed to do was make the commitment; once I did, it was like a million doors opened up for me.

What have been some of your biggest challenges along your path of transformation?

MDR5The second class I took was the Intro Class on Sunday. It really helped me understand the process and what The Studio (MDR) had to offer. I heard in the class, “If you come three times a week, you will change your body.” I took those words to heart and told myself that I could do this. I signed up for my classes at the beginning of the week and would not let myself back out. I read the transformer stories for inspiration. It was awesome to see those people in class and know how far they had come. The Studio (MDR) is such a wonderful community of people. You can always look to your neighbor for inspiration during class. The only person you are competing with is yourself. I have made some wonderful friends at The Studio (MDR).

I had to take a few weeks off in May; I was out of the country for work. I would practice my plank and tried to be as active as possible while I was gone.  When I came home, to my surprise I was exactly the same weight as when I left.  I thought for sure I would have put on extra pounds. I know the core values of what I had learned at The Studio (MDR) helped me maintain my weight even when I couldn’t make it to classes.

What’s been your biggest victory so far? How'd you do it, and how'd you feel?

So far I have lost 20 pounds and several inches off of my body. In fact, I’ve lost five inches from my waist and two inches from my legs. I stood up one day and my skirt fell to the floor. I have gone from a size 14 to an 8 and I am closing in on a size 6. And still, the biggest change for me has been more internal than external. I have been motivated to change my diet and be more conscious of everything around me. I love my newfound healthy lifestyle! It has helped me become a better mother and wife. Best of all, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and made the changes I needed to make. I am so much a happier now.

What are your goals now?

I would like to lose a little more weight and continue to tone up. The Studio (MDR) will forever be a part of my life!  I cannot imagine my days without it. It has given me so much more than my new shape. It has helped me get back to the confident girl I used to be.

I am ready to conquer the world!



Transformer of the Month: Kelly Callahan


Transformer of the Month: Kelly Callahan


Kelly Callahan  Before and After This mom of two, wife, and full-time doctor thought she didn’t have time to work out at The Studio (MDR). But amazing things have happened because she found a way to sneak in some “me” time and make her way to classes three times a week. Here’s her story.

Tell us about your starting point. How did you find The Studio (MDR) and what were you hoping to accomplish when you first signed up? 

I lived around the corner from The Studio (MDR) when it first opened, and I was pregnant with my second daughter at the time. I remember driving by the studio every morning on my way to work, peering in the window and wondering if that was something I could ever do. After Julia was born, the weight was not coming off like it had after my first pregnancy, and I was in the worst shape of my life.  I hadn’t exercised in two years. I thought I would never have the time to exercise again because I was working full time and was a mother of two. I was feeling sluggish and out of shape, and I resigned myself to the fact that I would never reach my ideal weight again, never mind get toned.  One day, I came home from work and my husband surprised me with a Studio (MDR) class and toe socks. He was very encouraging about me trying it since I had been talking about it for so long. The following Sunday (in April 2012) I took the introduction class  and I haven’t looked back.

What was your first class like? How tough did you think it was? How sore were you the next day? Were you “hooked” from the start?

The first class was incredibly tough for me. I remember doing the standing long jump and thinking I had just ripped my hamstring in half. I almost felt defeated at the end of the class, but everyone’s encouraging words as I left the studio that day (and my husband’s pep talk when I got home) made me committed. Two days later, I was still sore from my first class but I was determined to get on the Megaformer (and not fall off!). I had to modify every move; I couldn’t even do plank to pike. Mary, Lindsay, and Jesse worked diligently with me over the next weeks and months and had such patience with me as I tried to learn the moves and build strength. I remember the first time I finally was strong enough to do plank to pike without any modifications. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, “ I did it!” in the middle of class. I kept my composure but I logged it as my first goal ACCOMPLISHED and had a huge smile on my face for the rest of the class.

Have you had any challenges along your path to transformation, and if so, how did you push past them?

The biggest challenge for me (and for most moms I know) was learning to take time for myself. My initial hesitation about taking class was because of guilt I had thinking I would be taking away time from my family. I am so thankful for the late night classes, because I can spend the evening with my family and then head down to the studio for some “me” time. I soon realized that taking care of myself is so important and makes me a more active and engaged mom. My 3-year-old now asks if she can exercise with me when she gets big.

MDR talks a lot about loving your body in order for it to love you back. Have you had some moments where you’ve realized how far you’ve come in this sense?

I had no idea I could be this strong! It was great to see the rest of the pregnancy weight melt off, but the best part was to see that I actually had muscles under all of that extra weight. I stand a lot taller now.

Where are you now in terms of how far you’ve come from your starting point, and what are your new goals?

I can still envision myself in my first classes and I am so proud of how far I have come. I am in the best shape of my life. I lost 30 pounds and am back to my ideal weight. I went from a tight size 10 to a comfortable size 6. Most of my life I was a size 8, but now because by body is so much more toned, I am a size 6! My upper body strength is what has surprised me the most.  I can easily do military style push-ups now, and when I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror and see my toned arms, I smile. I also have my mental toughness back and know I can conquer anything I set my mind to. The classes are still tough, which keeps me coming back. I strive to accomplish small goals each session, like holding all the planks for the entire time or getting through the first 25 minutes without taking a break or modifying any moves. I don’t always meet my goals, but I don’t give up.  My husband and I work out together now on days that I don’t go to The Studio (MDR), which has been so much fun for us. I hope to do a mud run in the fall and a duathalon (running and biking) next spring. My 20-year high school reunion is in August and I will be rocking my size 6 LBD!