Transformer of the Month: Taylor


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!

5 Tips to Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

5 Tips to Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

It’s inevitable that on January 1st your pants will fit a little tighter, right? That a month’s worth of feasting instead of sweating will set you back on your wellness goals? Sometimes as the invitations flood in for holiday revelry, resistance towards the annual battle of the bulge does seem futile. But with intention, commitment, and creative planning, it’s possible to ring in the new year feeling just as fit as as you did when the season began! Here’s my five favorite ways to stay heathy throughout the holiday season.

1. Explore New Territory: If you’re traveling this holiday season, use it as an opportunity to try a new workout in a different town! Check Yelp for well-reviewed studios and sign up for classes before you even hop on the plane. You’re more likely to attend sessions for which you’ve already paid—and you have an excuse to make your escape for some precious me-time when the family drama hits the fan!

2. Create a Win-Win: Visiting family? Hosting houseguests? Enroll them into joining you in your usual fitness routine! Not only will you maintain your own physical health and support theirs, you'll eliminate the sense of guilt that can sometimes crop up when you sneak off for a workout while everyone else is sipping eggnog. Plus, you'll create the opportunity to deepen your relationships while bonding over a shared experience!

3. Schedule your indulgences. Booking your workouts is a given. But do you plan your special treats too? Prevent feelings of deprivation (which can often lead to overdoing it when your willpower runs out) by planning which holiday treats you'll enjoy. It will be a lot easier to say no to tonight's surprise tray of gingerbread if you know tomorrow's scheduled cocoa date is just around the corner!

4. Find an accountability buddy. Got a friend who shares your commitment to staying in shape over the holidays? You needn't have the same schedule and take all the same classes together; rather, you can create a system of accountability that consists of declared intentions, and then check in with each other. Send each other gym selfies and snaps of your healthy meals to keep inspired! 

5. Make friends with the scale. Being in relationship with the impact of our actions is the best way to course correct them when needed. So make a habit of stepping on the scale every morning. Do it not from a place of self-judgement but as a valuable reality check, in the same way you'd monitor your bank account to prevent overspending. It's easy to think that several nights in a row of cocktails and cookies won't have an impact—and indeed a few here and there won't!—but if you see the number start to climb steadily upwards you know it's time to put down the Brie and reach for the celery! 

- Anne Sage

Read Anne's blog here and follow her on Instagram @citysage

A Love Note From Lisa:

“And -- and to all the little girls (and boys) who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
- Hillary Clinton

Every life is a gift. I believe this with everything in me. And I know that it can be easy to get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that it’s easy to ignore this fact. For so many, simply breathing each day can be difficult, which makes it even more important to embrace how lucky we are!  How we choose to wake up and live our lives each day is up to us. Whether this past week was a disappointment or not, I personally found myself feeling sad and angry. And then I had a thought: We can either opt out of living in this incredible country that allows us so many freedoms that others are not privy to, or we can choose to do one thing each day to help make this country a better place — no matter who is our leader. For some of you, that may mean donating to Planned Parenthood; for others, it might mean helping an underprivileged child, feeding the homeless, understanding those that think differently than you, or simply making a concerted effort to smile more at your neighbor.

It’s my birthday week, and as many of you know, I treasure this time of year.  I simply LOVE MY BIRTHDAY!  It never gets old to me, and I will celebrate the day as I have since I was a little girl — because I feel life is way too short not to celebrate our time here. During this time of national transition, I think it’s even more crucial to celebrate the positive. For me, that means rejoicing in the fact I LOVE my studios and interacting with our clients every day, meeting new students and hearing their stories. It’s like I can literally feel my heart bursting with pride. In a world that is filled with confusion and ugliness at times, my heart is my private island hideaway from it all — and you’ve all got the same place of respite in each of you. I can honestly say that I am happy to grow older with these studios, and my loving staff and clients help me feel more vibrant by the day.

The message I’m embracing and trying to share right now is that life doesn’t need to be as complicated as we tend to make it. If we could all find a way to love each other a little more, smile a bit more, and steer clear of the drama that’s so easy to get caught up in, we could all contribute to a better, stronger world — even if it’s just the one in each of our own hearts.

Let’s all forge ahead into the New Year with bells on, embracing new determination to live our lives to the fullest. That’s my plan as I enter this 45th year of mine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and please know how incredibly grateful I am for the many gifts all of you bring to my life.

Big hug and lots of love,

Transformer of the Month: Meggie Choi

1. What was your starting point?  

On my last birthday, I realized that another year had quickly whisked on by! Even though I was happy with my career, family, and friends, my health and eating habits weren't where I wanted it to be. I was still eating like a college freshman and never made responsible choices in my diet. I'm a junk food addict, and I knew that if I wanted to grow up and live a long and happy life, I'd have to say goodbye to that. I started with making radical changes to my diet: shopping mostly in the produce aisle at the grocery store, giving up fast food, and watching my portions. After losing my first 15 pounds on diet alone, I learned that if I wanted to transform my body, I had to be smart about integrating cardio and strength training. I started coming to (MDR) for the strength training portion of my grand plan, and haven't looked back since. While I'm now very focused on what I eat, and I do spend a lot of time doing cardio and circuit training, pilates on the Megaformer has been an instrumental part of my 100 lb. weight loss journey.

2. 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 started off with really small, achievable goals. In my first month at (MDR), my goal was just to make it to class! That sounds simple, but it actually can be hard after a long day of work! Once I was in class, the next goal was just to finish! If that meant modifying every move but making it through class, I was happy with that.  

There was never a specific moment for me that nudged me to class. Once I had gathered momentum, it was more about keeping consistent and sticking to it. Eventually, the goal changed from simply attending class to modifying 50% of my moves. The more classes I attended, the less I had to modify! I still have goals now (and I still modify my moves)! Now I'm focused on getting my form right on all the moves. 

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

One of the biggest victories I had was not feeling SO sore after class! But of course, now I hope to find new places in my body that I can challenge, and the soreness is welcome because it means I'm trying something new and strengthening the muscles in new places. From a social perspective, after coming consistently, I've met some really great people who are part of the (MDR) community. It's really nice to see friendly faces and check-in with them. The instructors also take classes alongside me, so it's inspiring to see them challenge themselves.

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

My diet has done a complete 180. Pizza, burritos, and burgers will always be my first love (believe me, I miss them every day), but now I see it more like a very rare treat, rather than a daily habit. Instead, my daily habits now consist of vegetables, lean protein, and fruit. I've also stopped drinking alcohol... but only because I'd rather indulge in a piece of cake or some fries if I'm going to add more calories in my day. I'm learning new things about nutrition and my body every day, so I think my diet will continue to change alongside that.

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

THEY'RE ALL SO CHALLENGING! It probably took me the longest to figure out how to do chaturanga because it didn't feel natural to my arms.  Also, in my experience, that move tends to come towards the end of class when I'm feeling spent and my body is ready to call it a day. But because that move comes at the end of class, that means it's almost time to go home, so, that makes me love it :)

6. 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've discovered a lot about myself from the starting point! I'm generally not a very spiritual or mindful person, but it's hard to avoid thinking about your body when you're doing repeated bungee cord leg lifts and wondering if your glutes can survive 30 more seconds. As a result, I think I'm much more aware of how amazing and resilient our bodies are! I've made vast changes in my life, but they all started with very small decisions. My body has responded greatly to these small little mental tweaks and I am grateful for that. Not to sound cheesy, but I've learned that if you're willing to bet on yourself and go all in, there's no way you can't win. 

Beyond Black Friday with Joy Bitonio

Thanksgiving is a time for us to reflect and express gratitude for all the good things in our lives. Our social feeds are flooded with nothing but “#blessed” posts. It’s all conviviality and good vibes. That is, until Black Friday rolls around, and the abrupt shift of focus towards conspicuous consumption and shopping stampedes at Bed Bath & Beyond.

We’re not suggesting not to indulge in it at all. Rather, like so many things in life, it’s about finding the balance and making mindful choices about how we spend our resources. If we just take things in perspective, there will be plenty more sales to come during the holiday season and then some, so there’s no need to let FOMO set in.

When making plans on how you’ll spend your money and time, ask yourself: What is the feeling behind it? What am I really looking for? What need will this fill, and at what expense? Will countless hours of battling traffic, standing in long lines, and racking up credit card debt be time well spent?

According to Tony Robbins, we all have six universal needs, and it’s no surprise that it takes far more than material things for them to be met. They’re listed here, along with some ideas to truly fulfill them in a real and meaningful way:

Certainty/Comfort: We have a need for security and safety and it’s important we don’t take for granted the significance of a roof over our head and food on the table. We’re lucky to have both and more, so find comfort in ways that you’ve neglected lately.  Book an overdue massage, recalibrate in the vibrations of a sound bath, decompress in a float tank, or make an extra deposit into your savings account.

Uncertainty/Variety: Another holiday that is predictably just like the one before is uninspiring. Shake things up and trade routine for some fun and spontaneity. With this extra day off, awaken the sense of adventure inside of you that’s dying to come out to play. Do something that scares you a little, or a lot. Go on a last minute road trip to a locale without a store in sight, take up your rock climbing friend on their offer to show you the ropes. Just say yes.

Significance: At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced how chasing happiness through conspicuous consumption or other outside means leaves us feeling empty. Our sense of esteem comes from knowing that we are doing our best to become the best version of ourselves, and not relying on external sources of validation or approval. LOVE YOURSELF today and every day. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself some credit. Because we can’t give these things to others that we don’t have ourselves.

Love and Connection:  Spend less money today so you can spend more time. With your family. Your friends. Your kids. Your lover. Your pets. Make plans and surprise visits. Scrolling through social media feeds and liking their posts doesn’t count. Get some real life face time, and if they’re on the other side of the world, call them and really listen.

Growth: Read that book. Make good on your scheduled workout. Take that workshop you’ve been eyeing. Exercise your risk muscle by doing something that’s outside of your comfort zone, like asking that hot guy out to do something, anything but shopping.

Contribution: Let stuff go and pay it forward. Most of us have more stuff than we can even keep track of. Now is a perfect time to donate your stuff, and even better, your time. There are some amazing local organizations where you can do both.  Dress for Success provides services to empower women to achieve economic independence. They’ve served close to 5,000 women in the Greater LA area since 2009 and counting. Those clothes that are taking up space in your closet can be put to better use with these women. Volunteer service shifts for career coaches and personal stylists (to help women look their best for upcoming job interviews) is a gift that has the power to literally change someone’s life. DWC (Downtown Women’s Center) is the only organization in Los Angeles dedicated to addressing the needs of women overcoming poverty and homelessness in Skid Row. All donations directly benefit the women of the center. 

How you plan to spend your money, time, and attention can be in line with the things you value the most in life if you are intentional about it. With what really matters to you? With what makes you happy? With what lights you up? We’re willing to bet it’s not stuff.

Here’s to being grateful to “live it,” today, and every day.

- Joy Bitano of Aloha Spreader. Follow Joy here on Instagram.

A Love Note From Lisa: Seasonal Renewal

Founder of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about renewal and personal goals for the season..

September always signifies a time of renewal in my mind. The kids go back to school, the weather changes in some parts of the country, and I get flashbacks to when we couldn't wear white after Labor Day. There is always excitement in the air! This year is certainly no different.

I was away for the Labor Day holiday weekend and actually took time to have fun and relax. I returned feeling renewed. I can’t tell you how much I loved coming back to the many emails and greetings from clients about how much The Studio (MDR) and the Lagree Method has changed them—even though the workout is incredibly hard. As I read the same question from so many of you—“Why doesn't it get easier?!”—I could relate. Truth be told, this workout hasn’t gotten easier for me, either. Yet think of it this way: I’ve seen this workout make you stronger, leaner, and longer—not just in your bodies but in your minds, too. Doesn’t it feel amazing when you start to hit small goals when you come back to The Studio two, then three times a week? First it might be holding plank for 5 seconds on your hands and toes. Then all of a sudden you hold it for 30 and by the time you know it, it's a minute! Sure, some days are going to feel easier than others, but if you take a step back and look at your overall experience at The Studio (MDR) - and at life itself - it’s my sincere hope that we have added a smile to your face and helped you feel a sense of renewal, too. I truly believe this workout empowers you to feel and be more than you already are.

What we have strived to create at The Studio (MDR) is a place where there is no judgment. Where people, no matter who they are or from what walk of life, can feel comfortable at whatever fitness level they are at, taking the Total Body class and modifying it or going for more of an advanced class and up-leveling everything. I am committed to making our studio a place where you can ask questions, express concerns, and see the change that arise from your dedication. I hope that is what you are experiencing. Whether you are or are not, I want to hear about it. Most of all, let's jump into this amazing season of new energy together and help each other hit our goals and achieve our wildest dreams.
Here's to you, and here's to a great Fall ahead!

Big hug,

Transformer of the Month: Annie Wilson

1. What was your starting point?  

When I first came to The Studio (MDR) it had been years since I worked out regularly—although I’ve always had a passion for fitness and health it had taken a backseat in my life for a period of time. I had lost all my muscle tone, stamina, and confidence about regaining these back. I came in weighing around 150 pounds and now I am 130 pounds of awesome muscle power.  

2. 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 felt trapped in a cycle of feeling discontent about my physical fitness and frustrated by my inability to find a fitness routine that could keep me inspired, engaged, and motivated without it becoming monotonous. It was a happenstance that brought me to The Studio (MDR). Midst brooding over finding a felicitous workout that encompassed a level of high-intensity and efficacy – I ran into a former roommate who had just come out of a class. Drenched in sweat, looking toned, and healthy I had to know more! She described the workout and kept promulgating the studio is transformative and effective. Even better, she told me it was continually challenging and never humdrum. I decided right then and there I had to check it out. I love a challenge and more so a class that can be a routine workout for me without feeling routine.

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

After my first class I fell in love. Not only is it dynamic, face-paced, fun, I can feel every muscle being worked out in a way in which I’ve never experienced before. It truly is a groundbreaking routine in the ability to incorporate a total-body workout with cardio and strength in such short time duration. After the first few weeks of classes my body was significantly changed. I first noticed how much core strength I gained in such a short period of time. It is unparalleled to any other workout I’ve tried.

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

I have definitely started to eat more raw unprocessed food. I’ve cut down on eating sugar and I make sure that I stay hydrated.

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

French twist. The name sounds so sweet and innocent, but it works you hard and carves out your abs to make them ready for bikini season. Living in LA ‘bikini season’ is an all year ordeal so I’m always prepared. 

6. 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?

When I first started taking classes I had no muscle definition or tone, now I have strength throughout my body and it has changed my entire physique. Having developed strength and sculpted muscle tone, I’ve become more in-tune with body awareness. From something as simple as recognizing when I am slouching and self-correcting my posture to understanding how to use more core strength and muscle control when I am in dance class.

The Studio (MDR) has pushed me to break through mental barriers and to learn to accept being comfortable in discomfort -- when the change is happening. I love when occasionally an instructor will put extra resistance on my megaformer during class because they know I can do it and giving me a loving push to better myself. Them having faith and confidence in my own strength has lead me to realize I am capable of so much more than I thought possible. Especially since just shy of a year ago I experienced a severe case pneumonia alongside multiple lung surgeries --- there was around an 8 month period where I couldn’t workout like I’d been used to. Coming back in again to The Studio (MDR) I was once again gaining up strength and stamina. I was overwhelmed at first dwelling on fears about my ability to do it, but thanks to the instructors I’ve come back (maybe even stronger) and feeling confident and mentally prepared to take on whatever is next in life. In fact, the Studio (MDR) has made me not only want to "look it. feel it. live it," but fueled my desire to inspire and start teaching fitness and health education to others as well.

(MDR) Kitchen: Grain-Free Protein Pancakes by Anne Sage

Pancakes have been my favorite food since childhood, but the recipe now sends my poor stomach into spasms and weighs me down for the rest of the day. I'm not about to relinquish my go-to weekend indulgence, though, and fortunately for me there are plenty of great pancake recipe options whose ingredient profile is as impressive as their taste!

I've spent the last few years honing this recipe and it fully satisfies my breakfast cravings. These cakes are light and fluffy without the overly eggy taste that sometimes characterizes grain-free pancakes. They're the perfect foundation for sliced fruit, a drizzle of honey, or even plain ghee! I like cook up all the batter, eat half my pancakes in the morning, then tuck the rest into a sandwich bag for laterthey're great at room temperature with a slather of nut butter!

Grain-Free Protein Pancakes

Preheat an electric griddle to 350 degrees or heat a non-stick pan on the stove over medium low heat. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree on high for 30 seconds or until smoothly blended. Measure 2 tbsp of batter per pancake onto pre-heated surface and cook until bubbles appear in batter. Flip with a spatula, finish cooking other side for 30-60 seconds, and serve up hot with your choice of toppings! Or, let the pancakes cool on a baking sheet and enjoy as a snack for later! Makes 12 small pancakes. 

*A word regarding protein powder. Each one is different, and this recipe has been tested specifically for the one I specify here. I certainly encourage you to try using your own favorite powder but can't guarantee the results!

- Anne Sage

Read Anne's blog here and follow her on Instagram @citysage

How to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation plays a role in everything from cardiovascular disease to depression, and diabetes to obesity. It is important to differentiate chronic inflammation from acute inflammation. Acute inflammation is what happens when you cut yourself, for example. Inflammation temporarily occurs to protect and heal you. Inflammation becomes damaging when it is chronic. If you want to stay healthy, fit, and vibrant, it is important to keep inflammation in check.

The best way to prevent or heal inflammation is to eliminate inflammatory foods, introduce anti-inflammatory foods, and implement a few lifestyle changes.

CUT IT: Limit processed foods, refined sugar, and flour. Gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and yeast are common food allergens. If you are sensitive to these foods your body will produce an inflammatory reaction. If you suspect any food sensitivities try an elimination diet.

EAT IT: Eat a diet filled will nutrient dense, whole foods. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that can combat inflammation. Aim to eat wild-caught fish 3 to 4 times a week. They are filled with omega-6 essential fatty acids, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

SIP IT: Drink bone broth daily. It provides collagen, glutamine, glycine, proline, and glucosamine. This helps to heal the lining of the gut and reduce inflammation. For a recipe, check out this post.

SWAP IT: Try to eat organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed meat instead of grain fed meat. Eat as many organic foods as possible and limit GMOs.

ZZZ’s: Be sure to get adequate sleep, seven to ten hours, depending upon age, activity level, and overall health. If you have difficulty sleeping check out this post.

WORK IT: As if we needed another reason to come into The Studio (MDR), research shows that people who did at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise weekly lowered their markers of inflammation by at least 12 percent!

CHILL OUT: Stress plays a role in inflammation, so do whatever it take to de-stress. Spend time with friends, get outside, and get moving. Numerous studies have shown that mind-body therapies actually can actually reduce inflammation markers. All it takes is 5 to 10 minutes of meditation.

SPICE IT: Add turmeric to your arsenal. It has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

MASSAGE IT: Rumor has it a 45 minute massage can actually lower your pro-inflammatory cytokines. (If you’re looking for a therapeutic massage we love Acutonix in Venice)

SUPPLEMENT: Take a quality probiotic daily. Due to stress, antibiotics, and poor diet the bad bacteria in our gut can start to outweigh the good bacteria. This can lead to dysbiosis and inflammation. Look for a probiotic with acidophilus, bifidus, and lactobacillus. 

5 Tips To Mindful Eating

You may think you’re doing your body good by sipping on a green juice or eating a salad, but if you’re doing so while watching TV or behind the wheel of your car, then keep reading.

Driving, working, watching TV, or scrolling through social media, are all distractions that interfere with the ritual of eating. Mindless eating cannot only lead to overindulgence, but it also does not allow us to properly digest what we consume. This impaired digestion means you won’t absorb all of the precious nutrients your body needs. The simple solution to this is to practice mindful eating, which requires you to shift your full awareness to the meal in front of you.

  • Begin with why: Before you begin eating ask yourself, “Why am I eating this?” Am I hungry, thirsty, or am I simply bored? Why do I want this? How will it make me feel? Asking ourselves why allows us to tune into our bodies and avoid emotional or mindless eating.
  • Unplug: Sit down and unplug. While we completely understand mealtime may seem like the perfect thirty minutes to squeeze in your TV show, catch up on instagram, or peruse pinterest…resist the urge. When we’re distracted while eating, we tend to eat mindlessly. This can lead to overeating and many times gas, bloating, and digestive issues. Take mealtime as a well-deserved break and a time to focus on nourishing yourself.  
  • Breathe: At this point, you’re now sitting with as few distractions as possible and it’s time to begin focusing on your breath. Take a few deep breaths from your diaphragm (belly breathing). Inhale as your stomach extends and count to ten, and then exhale slowly for a count of ten. Do this at least three times. This allows you to release any tension or stress you may have had and connect with your body. This breathing exercise relaxes the body and enhances the blood flow to your digestive organs.
  • Use your senses: Before you dig in, use all of your senses to observe the dish. This allows you to slow down and become aware of what you are about to eat. It also tells your body to prepare for eating. Smelling and looking at your food sends signals to your body to create the enzymes needed for digestion.
  • Chew well: Digestion begins in the mouth with salivary amylase and salivary liapse. Salivary amylase begins the breakdown of carbohydrates, while salivary lipase begins the breakdown of fats. With that said, thorough chewing and exposure to the lipase and amylase will enhance digestion. The rule of thumb is chew each bite until the food becomes liquefied, which could be 20-50 chews depending upon what you are eating. Chewing well has many benefits. It enhances digestion, promotes optimal absorption of nutrients, and it forces you to slow down so you will feel when you are full. 

Live It: Summer in L.A.

Summer is finally here! It’s time to gather your tribe, get outside, and soak up the sun. If you have found yourself frequenting the same farmer’s markets, cafes, and hikes we’re here to switch things up!

Twilight Concert series on the Santa Monica Pier: This is one of our favorite summer traditions. Every Thursday night, from July 7th to September 8th, The Santa Monica Pier turns into a concert venue. Bring your blankets, friends, a nice rosé, and enjoy the diverse line-up with the picturesque view.

Hit the local farmer’s market: We’re so lucky to be in the center of farmer’s market mecca. From Playa Vista’s farmer’s market (located right in front of our PV location) to Main St. Santa Monica (bike valet anyone?), we have so many options. We’re making it a goal to hit each of the following farmer’s markets this summer. Who’s with us?

  • Arizona Ave @ 2nd Street, Santa Monica I Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Arizona Ave @ 3rd Street, Santa Monica I Saturdays 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • 2640 Main Street, Santa Monica I Sundays 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • 500 Venice Blvd, Venice | Fridays 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • 12775 W. Millennium Drive, Playa Vista I Sundays 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Grand View @ Venice Blvd, Mar Vista I Sundays 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Try CocoBakes for delicious healthy treats!) 

Hike Temescal Canyon: This is one of our favorite hikes in LA. While it may be under 6 miles away from the studio, this hike really allows you to escape and get in touch with nature. You almost forget you’re in the middle of the city. The views are unparalleled and are motivation enough to get you to the top.  

Rooftop Cinema in DTLA: Nothing says summer like cinema under the stars. The Rooftop Cinema Club has created the perfect ambiance to enjoy cinema al fresco, located on the rooftop of The Montalbán Theatre. Did we mention Farmer’s Belly Café is serving their farm-to-table dishes on the rooftop before the screening? So yes, comfy chairs, wireless headphones, city views, and delicious food…. you know we’ll be there.  

10 Ways to Reduce Everyday Stress

Chronic stress is an ugly thing. Yes our body is equipped for stress, short-term stress that is, the adrenal glands are signaled and it triggers a release of cortisol and adrenaline, as well as an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar. Once the stressful situation has passed the cortisol decreases along with the blood pressure and blood sugar. When the stress persists this response doesn’t shut off and it can lead to adrenal fatigue. When the adrenals are constantly stimulated this leads to inflammation, thyroid insufficiency, fatigue, and many other ailments.

Chronic stress raises insulin and can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. Needless to say we need to limit our stress, and for the stress that’s unavoidable here are ten ways to help minimize the impact it has on you!


  1. Meditate. Meditation is so beneficial in reducing stress. We know it can be daunting so try an app like Headspace. Give it ten minutes a day, we promise you won’t regret it.
  2. Get outside and soak up the sun. Vitamin D is linked to increased serotonin, also known as the feel good neurotransmitter. Being in nature whether that is at the beach or in a park reminds you that you are part of something bigger and can help put stressful situations into perspective.
  3. Laugh. Laughter could be the best medicine after all. Laughing releases endorphins and reduces the body’s stress response. Call up one of your girlfriends; play with your kids, or whoever makes you giggle.
  4. Get moving! Exercise literally burns off stress chemicals. So get your booty into Studio (MDR), start sweating, and shedding the stress.
  5. Eat Healthy! Excess sugar, carbohydrates, and refined foods add stress to your body. They spike your blood sugar, increase inflammation and can lead to weight gain.
  6. Sleep. A solid eight hours of sleep each night is one of the best things you can do to keep your stress in check.
  7. Practice deep breathing. Inhale for a count of five and exhale for a count of five, breathing from your belly. Do that five times. Deep full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response. The vagus nerve goes through your diaphragm and is stimulated with every deep breath. It actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system and releases anti-stress hormones.
  8. Express gratitude. By focusing on what you are grateful for you shift your focus from what causes anxiety or stress to what brings you joy.
  9. Aromatherapy. Oils like lavender or rosemary can stimulate the limbic system and release chemicals in the brain that promote relaxation and calmness.
  10. Break out of your routine. Whether it’s picking up a guitar, cooking, playing tennis, or practicing calligraphy, just do something outside of your daily routine.

A Love Note From Lisa: How to Face the Inevitable

Founder of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about making the most of the inevitable.

One of the things I love most about running The Studio (MDR) is that it is literally an agent of change. Come to class wanting more defined abs or a perkier booty? Poof—put in the work and the rewards are yours. I watch so many of you change your bodies and truly transform, becoming so much healthier, happier, and feeling the kind of energy boost that comes along with investing in your well-being. It’s amazing to witness! 

Observing this kind of change also inspires me to see additional possibilities outside The Studio (MDR)’s walls. When I am faced with challenges these days, I start thinking of possible solutions rather than harping on what’s not working. I see injustices in the world and try to figure out a way I can help, even if it’s only a small contribution. All of this positivity and potential for change is not only uplifting and inspiring, but it’s also given me a new outlook on so many things, which, before now, I often took for granted or simply didn’t see very clearly. Which is why I’m finding it even trickier to face what I know I can’t change—and for me, right now, that topic is age.

 Don’t get me wrong—I’m still going to love it when my birthday rolls around every November. And I know that age is just a number... what really matters is how you feel. Still...We all know that time is going to march on, and when so much in life is so changeable, it can be tough to realize that some things, well, just aren’t.

Recently, I was chatting with a friend about all of this, and she could relate.  Last year it seemed she had all the time in the world to get her workouts in three times a week. Then, life threw her a major curve ball, and now she's battling breast cancer. Obviously, her priorities have shifted, and she’s focused on her treatment—in addition to all of her other demands. And, if she’s able to, she fits in a workout once a week. I admire her so much. Talk about having to face a big change, and she’s doing it with class, grace, and even a hefty dose of humor. Maybe there’s an area in your life, too, that feels discouraging. Perhaps you’re taking care of a sick parent, facing a career change or, like me, you’re wondering how the heck you can be 40-something when you still feel like you’re 31. What I’m learning as I face my own “stuff” is that the unchangeable is a part of life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t transform your view about it and embrace it.  

Right now I’m reading Cameron Diaz’s new book, “The Longevity Book,” which I am loving.  Like Cameron, I have never lied about my age and genuinely believe that there are 5 pillars of well-being: good nutrition; movement of the body; a good night's sleep (rest); stress release; and meaningful, connected, loving relationships. Aging is truly a gift. This is something I am very aware of as life can change on a dime and there are those who don't get the opportunity to celebrate that next birthday...So we need to wrestle with our mind to stop stressing about what could be and concentrate on the enjoying the moment and valuing its existence.  We cannot control or stop the aging process but we surely can embrace the youthfulness of our thoughts and actions!

 What I know for sure is that during times when you feel like there’s nothing you can do about a totally unchangeable situation, taking one little action step toward something can make you feel like a million bucks. For me, I’m focusing on filling my life with as many things that I love and that fulfill me. I'm concentrating on finding social issues that interest me and where I can make a meaningful difference. If I have to get older, damn it, I’m going to do it in the best shape of my life and make conscientious choices that help me feel happier than ever with every extra birthday candle I make a wish on. I’m also ever-inspired by all of you beautiful souls who are changing before my eyes and showing me that no matter what’s in store, leaning on those you love and the communities you’ve built makes everything better. 

With so much love and admiration for you, The Studio (MDR) community, 

Follow Lisa on Instagram @lisanhirsch

Transformer of The Month: Fred Lanes

What was your starting point? 

My starting point was having significant issues with my right hip flexor (and psoas muscle).  I was having to see a sports physiotherapist and a chiropractor routinely in order to get any kind of ability to walk any meaningful distance without considerable discomfort. My bicycling and yoga were not doing the trick.

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

As last summer approached I knew I had two important trips coming up - the first was to the Paris air show and the second to The Open at Saint Andrews. Walking would be an important aspect and at that point in time I could maybe walk about 100 yards without having to stop to allow the pain in my hip flexor to subside. My chiropractor suggested that I look into a Pilates reformer type of class. At the same time my son had begun to attend The Studio (MDR).  I had noticed how it helped him with his balance, flexibility and strength. 

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

For starters, after class the pain in my hip flexor had subsided and I was able to walk without having to stop every 100 yards or so. That was huge. Having been a varsity athlete throughout high school and college (wrestling and lacrosse) and an avid skier to this day I accumulated numerous maladies that began then and continue to impact my daily life, including rotator cuff injuries to both shoulders and knee injuries all of which have required surgery, physical therapy or both. 

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

After a couple of months of attending The Studio (MDR) I had noticed that I had reached a plateau.  Not the least of which was as a result of my dietary habits - especially the evening or weekend before attending a class at the studio. I decided that in order to have better performance and results of class I needed to make some adjustments. I spent a week writing down what I was eating and drinking and what exercise I was doing. As a result I reduced the quantity of "junk food" that I was eating and also moderated my adult beverage consumption especially on the day preceding working out at the studio. 

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

Pigeon. I still hate pigeon, but it really helps with my hip flexor. And I especially hate it when I'm doing it at the Mega Stretch class and Albina (the instructor) provides a position correction that serves to deepen the stretch. 

How far have you come from your starting point in both physical and mental ways?

How far have I come for my starting point? Miles! Consider that several months ago I could walk maybe 100 yards without having to stop and now I can walk for miles speaks for itself.  And my level of flexibility has increased remarkably to the point that perhaps I have better flexibility than some of the class instructors. Some of my new goals as I look ahead include a bit of weight loss and losing perhaps an inch around my waist.  Interestedly but not really important to me at all is I don't think I've lost a pound since I began working out at The Studio (MDR) - but about an inch around my waist. I do know that I have absolutely converted fat to muscle and while I don't have the six pack I had in my college days my abs are the best that they have been since, and that has contributed to the improvement in my hip flexors and a reduction in sporadic lower back discomfort. 

The Essentials of Essential Oils

Essential oils are the fragrant essence of a plant. They provide adaptive powers for the plant and therapeutic powers for us. The same vitamins, antiseptics, and hormones they provide for the plant, provide a wide range of benefits for us.


Be sure that you purchase 100% pure, therapeutic grade oils.

AROMATICALLY: We love using a diffuser.  You can also rub a few drops between your palms and inhale deeply. Inhaled remedies are great for headaches, sinus issues, and calming or stimulating effects.

TOPICALLY: Dilute essential oils with carrier oils like jojoba oil or coconut oil.


  1. Lavender: One of the most widely used essential oils known for its calming and soothing qualities. Add to your diffuser while you are getting ready for bed to promote peaceful sleep. You can also place a drop on the underside of your pillow to encourage peaceful sleep. Lavender is also found to aid in the reproduction of skin cells.

  2. Wild orange: Our go to when we are feeling sluggish or anxious. It’s a stimulating and all around happy scent. Combine roughly 20 drops with almond or coconut oil and rub all over your body when you step out of the shower for a quick boost.

  3. Chamomile: Serves as an anti-inflammatory and helps with bloating and cramping. Chamomile also helps to de-stress and calm. It acts as a mild sedative. Use as you would other essential oils, or sip on chamomile tea. Be sure to cover the cup while it is steeping to preserve its therapeutic effects.

  4. Peppermint: Increases energy and focus. It aids in digestion and calms nausea.   

  5. Eucalyptus: Provides energizing and antiseptic effects. Great for cold symptoms and sinus or respiratory issues.

  6. Rosemary: Helps the mind focus and energize. Rosemary also improves memory. Rosemary essential oil mixed with coconut oil makes a moisturizing hair mask that stimulates hair growth.

*Photo via @saffronsageliving

How to Get the Best Beauty ZZZ's

Sleep can impact your body just as much as constant exposure to toxins or a bad diet. A lack of sleep can have many negative impacts. It is a major stress on the body, which can lead to weight gain, hormone imbalance, lowered immune function, hair loss, and premature aging.

Let’s begin looking at sleep like it’s an event. You can’t run around all day like a crazy woman and expect your body to calm down the second your head hits the pillow. So lets prepare for bed like an event. Turn down the lights and set an ambiance. Throw some lavender into your diffuser. Take a bath or a relaxing shower. Put your phone away and journal instead. Sip on chamomile tea. Stretch, do a few yoga poses, or meditate. Create a routine of preparing yourself for bed.

Remember when you were a kid? You had bath time then story time, both of which prepared you for bed. Well big kids need this transition too. Take a half hour to yourself and prepare for bed… you deserve it!

  1. Wake up and go to bed at the same time to keep your hormone cycle regular (even weekends!)

  2. Create a bedtime ritual: warm bath or shower, reading, herbal tea, etc.

  3. Avoid caffeine after 1 pm

  4. Digital detox an hour before bed. This mean no phones, computers, TVs, or iPads…Just five minutes of blue light exposure reduces your melatonin production.

  5. Install F.lux on your computers and devices to reduce blue light exposure after sundown.

  6. Write down anything on your mind or that you need to do the next day so when you hit the pillow your thoughts are not racing

  7. Gratitude Journal: jot down 3 things you’re grateful for or share them with your partner

  8. Reducing stress is imperative, 10 minutes of meditation before bed can greatly reduce stress and help you to drift off to sleep

  9. Make sure your room is dark and cold. The best temperature for your body to sleep is from 60 to 66 degrees.

Sweet Dreams!

*photo via @parachutehome