Monday, April 30, 2012

Urban Active Fitness Presents: "Recipe For Protein Pancakes"

by Josh Bowen of Urban Active Fitness

Who doesn’t love a good pancake every once in a while? As a kid my Dad would fix us pancakes every Sunday and I devour them like nobody’s business! Now, what I was eating was not the most nutritious and healthy meal but I didn’t know any better, nor did I care. However, nowadays I watch what I put in my body and I ran across a great recipe for a high protein pancake.

Mix together:
¼ cup of uncooked oatmeal
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder

Throw on a skillet and cook them like a regular pancake. To add a little flavor you can use some fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes etc).

Nutritional Breakdown
Total Calories: 313 calories
Protein:  31 grams
Carbohydrates: 27 grams
Fat: 8 grams Fiber: 5 grams

Image Credit: How Sweet It Is

Sunday, April 29, 2012

TOCCA: Sophistated Beauty Products For The Modern Woman

by Sarah & Rose

TOCCA, which means "touch" in Italian, has an admired clothing line, worn by Christy Turlington and Sofia Coppola, and a beauty line that is phenomenal.  The line is "unabashedly feminine with an edge [and] evokes the European sophisticate on holiday." One of the most popular products from the designer are their fragrances, of which I am a dedicated fan.  

Their newest fragrance, Violette, is a charming scent that can be worn for day or night activities. The company describes this scent as: "Springtime in Paris. Vibrant blooms along the Champs-Elysees awaken the youthful spirit of first love. Violette evokes the whirlwind romance between a young soldier on leave and a young girl at the fragrance counter of Le Bon Marche in 1940's Paris.

With that description in mind, it almost allows you to imagine this scenario the entire time you're wearing the fragrance. One of the top attributes of any TOCCA fragrance is that no one else will be able to place what you're wearing, yet want to ask you (so they can run out and purchase a bottle).  The scents that TOCCA offers are very sophisticated and formulated so that your scent is still mellow enough to not appear that you are trying too hard with an overpowering perfume. 

Another product TOCCA worth purchasing is the Stella Body Polish.  As Summer is rapidly approaching, there is nothing that beats the power of an excellent body scrub when baring your legs in shorts, skirts, or even a bikini.  This one is really nice because the minute you start to work it into your skin, your skin instantly feels moisturized and smooth. I chose a body polish in Stella, which has a scent of blood oranges, and I just love it.  It contains olive granules, to exfoliate your skin, and offers a luxurious aspect to any shower or bath. I even use it on my hands before I polish my nails.  

Violette is available exclusively at Anthropologie, however, in May, it will be available at Sephora for $68. The body polish is available at Sephora and for $54.  TOCCA's flagship store, which carries each of their beauty products, is located in New York City's West Village.  For more information, visit

{An excellent body polish from TOCCA to invest in. Note: the mermaid on the lid of the jar is a fun decoration.}
{Violette, the newest fragrance from TOCCA.}
{Details on every fragrance bottle.}
{A lovely message on the back of the body polish.}

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ian Somerhalder To Play Christian Grey in Film Adaptation of "Fifty Shades Of Grey"?

Ian Somerhalder (from The Vampire Diaries) recently hinted that he is up for playing the role of Christian Grey in a film adaptaion of the wildly popular, over-the-top romance novel, Fifty Shades Of Grey by E.L. James. While no details of the movie have been confirmed, the actor officially admitted that he is up for the role in a recent interview with Ryan Seacrest.  Ian is the perfect fit (well, closest to the perfect fit) for the role of the emotionally withdrawn, really-not-normal-by-a-long-shot guy who can capture the heart of a woman with just a look (which seems 100% ridiculous and purely from the imagination of a woman). This book is causing a splash because of how out-there it is with the relationship between the main character, Ana Steele, and Christian Grey, a multi-millionaire who she meets while interviewing him for her student paper during her senior year of college. Basically, it's yet another story of a clumsy, plain, bookworm who somehow manages to capture the eye of a superficial man. Do you think it will make a good movie? Whether you love it or hate it, the only thing we can be sure of is that it will make a lot of money, due to how popular the book already is.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview: Eva Trapp Of The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

by Chris Steele

If you've kept up with Style & Wisdom, you may have noticed that we've worked a lot with the very talented team at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre during 2012 so far. We brought you reviews of The Nutcracker, A Streetcar Named Desire, and most recently, Coppelia.  If you read our review of A Streetcar Named Desire, you know that it was an intense and emotional ballet.  At times, it was even hard to watch because of how serious some of the scenes were (which means that it was brilliantly depicted.) The main character, Blanche, had many mental struggles and at one point, remembers a time when she was raped.  The character was beautifully and powerfully portrayed by Eva Trapp and our theater critic, Chris Steele, recently caught up with her to chat about A Streetcar Named Desire and her role as a dancer  with PBT.  While PBT's season just ended, Eva is surely a dancer to look out for in their 2012-2013 season!

Chris Steele: I have great respect for all dance forms. Ballet takes a certain discipline that takes art to a different level. What drives you?  
Eva Trapp: Being a ballerina has given me the unique ability to actually be someone else’s  canvas. I find accomplishing new works of choreography and stepping into another character on stage is what really drives me. Over all I would say that dancing is a challenge that I absolutely adore.

CS: What age did you find that?  
ET: I started very young at the age of three. I think I fell in love with the art form after I got my first pair of pointe shoes. Which I believe I was eleven.

CS: Who supported you pushing you further?
ET: My parents have always been my behind the scenes strength. 

CS: In an average week how many pairs of pointe shoes do you go through?
ET: On average, a pair a day.

CS: What is your dream role?
I just had the honor of performing it. It is Blanche, from A Streetcar Named Desire

CS: Do you do any other styles of dance? Favorite?
ET: With this line of work I think at one point I have tried just about every style. I do love tap dancing, I have not danced that way in years and I do miss it.

CS: Ballet takes quite a physical tool on the body.  Toes, muscles, much of the most elegant form seems to not actually be intended for the human body.  At any point did you almost throw in the pointe shoes?
ET: The year I graduated high school, I lost mobility in my ankle due to an injury brought on from dancing. Being so young I did not know how to take care of my body, the way dancers must do. I took two months off to heal and I thought this could be the end. I had a wonderful teacher in Cleveland call me up and she told me to come back. So I took classes with Gladesa Guadlupe. While working with her, the director of Ohio Ballet, Jeffery Graham Hughes, came and taught class and offered me a job. Injuries are a very real and scary thing that happen to dancers all the time. I was very lucky.

CS: Since 2006 you’ve been with the PBT, first with the Corps de Ballet and are now a featured soloist. Can you tell us about that transition; what it entails, what it means to a dancer, pros and cons of either end.
ET: There is a motto that most dancers live by: “There are no small parts”. To have a job at PBT or any other company is an honor at any level.  There are so many dancers out there and comparably few jobs.  With that being said, every level creates new challenges. I remember how much I loved working in the Corp de Ballet in full length ballets. To me the corp can be the heart of a ballet. For example Swan Lake. To dance in unison and in perfect lines as a moving breathing set. It is very difficult work making sure you match everyone. As a soloist I have been given so many wonderful opportunities. I dance alone most of the time. The best part of my job now is that one on one time I get to feel with the audience.
Streetcar was critically acclaimed.  At first blush when I heard about it, the concept seemed odd to me, as the thought stewed, however, I understood why it was so remarkable.  Tennessee Williams was well known for his ability to capture the human element in compelling situations… So to consider Swan Lake, Giselle, Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, the best ballet seems to be artistic renderings of humanity in similar themes as Williams best works. Stripped down, bare bones humanity. 

CS: What was your first step in trying to find that delicate balance that was Blanche Dubious? 
ET: Chemistry is essential in any Williams play, as it is in any ballet, so obviously for this role it was imperitive. 

CS: Can you speak on what it takes to find that chemistry and keep it?
ET: Blanche to me is the most “human” character I’ve ever worked on. She has so much depth and so many layers. I guess I really started with the fact that she is a true well-mannered southern lady. To me, anytime I said something as Blanche in my head I said it with a deep southern drawl, very slow and very oblivious. She has such a fragile mental state to begin with and any major life change or trauma is enough to send her right over the edge. But you must add in that she is always fooling herself into believing that she is and will be just fine. Therefore she projects herself in complete self denial and yet lady like and very pulled together.

When forming chemistry with another dancer I find it exceedingly important that they also understand their character. When I am on stage acting, I am the person I am playing. To me it’s the only way to convey to the audience a real experience. As rehearsals develop I believe you start seeing each other in a different light. It’s no longer a co-worker but someone you know entirely. Not as themselves but as the character, so by the time you are performing, you are in a way living your character’s experiences. 

CS: What brought you to Pittsburgh Ballet Theater?
ET: I trained in PBT’s school my last two years of high school. I have always loved the company. I was dancing with Ohio Ballet, and sadly the company went under and folded. I called Terry right after and he ask me to come back.  Pittsburgh has been my home ever since.

CS: How do you like Pittsburgh having been here nearing on seven years, one would think you might be a fan?
ET: I love this city. The arts are thriving here, unlike any other city I have been to. Great people, great food, great boyfriend, and I happen to be a Steelers fan.

CS: Favorite food spot?
ET: It’s a toss up between Tamari, Dinette, and Paris 66.

CS: Favorite night spot?
ET: OTB or New Amsterdam 

CS: I always tell out of towners they need to go to Pamela’s for breakfast before they leave. It’s a pancake like no other.  What is the one place (other than the PBT) that you would call a “need to see (or do) Pittsburgh thing”?
ET: I love Light Up Night, but that’s seasonal. The Andy Warhol Museum is a must see for me.

CS: I see on PBT’s dancer blog site “Human or Dancer” that you post playlists pretty often. Those playlists you provide have an impressive range from popular oldie but goodies to modern day nitch independent stuff to B sides of popular artists you would never hear on the radio. And the artists are such a wide variety. I appreciate a good eclectic music lover so I’m interested: if we turned on your iPod right now, what song would come on?  
ET: Gotye, I am a little bit obsessed with the song “Somebody I Use To Know”.

CS: If you had to delete every artist but one, who would you keep?
ET: Hands down Queen, with Freddie Mercury of course.

CS: Who is the one artist that no one knows and needs to?
ET: Good question, I’d say either Zeus or Morphine 

CS: What makes a great song in the heart of Eva Trapp?
ET: A great song is powerful. Whether it’s something you feel inside yourself or something that the artists emotes. One epic song is all it takes to inspire an entire day. A great song changes you.

CS: How often do you choreograph numbers in your head to the music in your headphones while you’re listening to it?
ET: Only when I am truly inspired by a piece of music.

If you missed our review of A Streetcar Named Desire, you can read it here.

The Kardashians Sign On For Three More Years Of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" On E!

The Kardashian family is everywhere these days.  From the reality spin-offs to every magazine the bedding department at Sears, it's hard to imagine that the klan started off on a quirky reality show on E!.  Now, it has been confirmed that the family has just signed on for three more years of filming Keeping Up With The Kardashians.  You may be wondering, what did they earn? 40 million.  Yes, 40 million dollars.  It's almost alarming that to make it rich here in America these days, all you need to do is be ridiculous, while wearing a lot of heavy makeup, on a reality show.  But, I will admit, I will probably watch all three seasons...

Photo Credit: E!

Jessica Simpson: "I'm Still Pregant!"

You might have heard that Jessica Simpson gave birth to a baby girl, but she insists that you heard wrong! This past Saturday, she tweeted, "To everyone congratulating me on the birth of my baby girl, I'm still pregnant!! Don't believe what you read ladies and gents."

Yesterday, she seemed to be back on Twitter, tweeting that she just woke up from a dream where she gave birth in a leopard caftan. While Jessica's pregnancy has been quite entertaining for all of her fans (from her TMI commentary), this seems to be the longest pregnancy in the history of celebs.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Giuliana & Bill Rancic Expecting A Baby!

E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic and her husband Bill Rancic appeared on The Today Show on Monday morning to announce that they are expecting a baby! The couple, who star on their reality show Giuliana & Bill have been documenting their rocky road to having a baby and are happy to announce they are finally expecting via surrogate.  Giuliana, who found out that she had breast cancer while going through IVF treatments, is thrilled that after all of her struggles this past year, she is expecting a baby late Summer. "It was pretty much one of the best moments of my life, if not the best moment of my life," she says.  

The couple seemed very thankful and in good spirits during the morning interview, adding that they were grateful to share Giuliana's story with breast cancer with the public because it shines light on the importance of early detection and could help other women.  Giuliana went on to say, "The more you focus on the positve, the more good things come to you.  I've really seen that.  I have a great husband, and I have a baby on the way.  What more can I ask for really?"

Congrats to Giuliana & Bill!
Photo Credit: Us Weekly

Monday, April 23, 2012

Urban Active Fitness Presents: "Flexibility"

by Josh Bowen of Urban Active Fitness

Remember in PE class when they made all the kids reach and touch their toes or do the butterfly? This was our first introduction to flexibility and the “warm-up.” We did this primarily so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves before we played kickball or practiced some funky Latin dance (this one stood out to me as I can picture myself trying to Zumba in the fourth grade, terrible memory). Our teachers wanted our muscles and joints loose to prevent any injuries we may incur. But why? Why do we have to warm-up? What is a warm-up? Where does flexibility come in? Surprise! I’ve got the article for you! Sit back and relax while we discuss the most often overlooked part of our exercise programming.
Recently I was forced to pay close attention to the injuries I had accumulated over the past several years. I admit I am a stubborn individual with a high pain threshold. I do not like to miss a workout for any reason, let alone for injury. So I went to see a friend of mine with expertise in corrective exercise, the spine and lots of other areas. We went through several tests; measuring my range of motion, manual muscle testing etc. Then he asked the question, “JB, are you warming up prior to your workouts?” You got me doc! No! I wasn’t and it was taking a huge toll on my body; my hip flexors and hamstrings were tight causing some pelvic misalignment and my glutes were not firing as they should. I was also having some shoulder issues and to top it all off, I couldn’t do my favorite exercises effectively. Broken down before 30 all because I was not focusing on the areas that needed focusing. After several weeks of performing some dynamic stretching, focusing on my glutes and getting back to foam rolling, I am a new man! So to summarize all of this before you get going with your workouts here are some suggestions from someone that as experienced it firsthand…me!
1. There is a difference between static stretching and dynamic stretching. Here is the skinny: static is a stretch held in the same position for 20-30 seconds. Dynamic stretching is movement based upon the demands of your workout. For example, if I am going to do a lower body day I may warm up with some body weight lunges, bridges and high knees. Basically;  this gets blood to the muscle, prepares the neuromuscular system for your workout and allows you to focus on opening your hip flexors up and activating your glutes. Regardless of what you workout, it is my advice to warm your hips up! Why? If you are sitting you to do a shoulder press you want your hip flexors loose, diaphragm muscles activating so you can press through a full range of motion overheard without killing your shoulders. If you are doing a lower body, you still want your hip flexors loose but you also want your glutes to fire. Your glutes are your powerhouse muscle, providing the most power of any muscle in your body.
2. Which is better static or dynamic? Research shows dynamic stretching is more specific and provides better results than static stretching. You can’t stretch a cold muscle is an old saying that stays true! Get your body moving before engaging in full on exercise! You will have more strength and power, I promise! Your connective tissue will thank you!
3. Foam roll. Go buy a piece of foam and roll out all major muscle groups! Illiotubial band (IT band) and hip flexors in particular. This will allow your muscles to relax so that they can be stretch.
4. Glutes, Glutes, Glutes. The powerhouse, the end all be all. Why is this muscle important? It is because most of us don’t use it! Its hard to use something that you constantly sit on. So when you are in the gym, concentrate on it. Your body will thank you and your lower back and knees just may send you an appreciation card. In reality no single muscular group has as much effect on the entire body as the glutes (throw the core in there too). When they are not firing correctly, your lower back and hamstrings have to compensate causing improper movement patterns and potential for injury. Get this muscle firing correctly and most everything will fall into place. PS I have no scientific research that states this, however I have practical application to fall back on and every time I had a client with back issues or knee problems, I worked on their glutes and their pain decreased tremendously. Go figure right!
5. Walking around the track or on a treadmill is not a warm-up. I am guilty of this one but you have to realize that walking around a track is probably not specific to your workout you are going to go through. It loosen the hip joint up a little but as far as stretching the hip flexors and activating the glutes it will not. Not bad cool down post workout to bring the heart rate down, but not as a workout so stop doing it!
In closing, from the beginning of elementary school we were taught how to stretch and taught the value of warming up. What we didn’t know is how big of a deal this was and how over time our bodies will fight against us if we don’t get moving. So take my advice, warm- up every time you workout. Make it part of your workout! Your body will thank you!
Yours in Fitness,
 Josh Bowen will be joining Style & Wisdom every Monday for the next few weeks for a series of blog posts about obtaining maximum fitness results.  Josh Bowen has been the Quality Control Director of Personal Training at Urban Active Fitness since 2007 and has trained and directed 400 trainers in 7 states.  Josh has certified trainers, proctored hundreds of seminars and conference calls, and contributed to ten published articles about fitness.  His mission is to spread the word of fitness to as many people as he can through personal training with a motto of "train, motivate, and inspire!" For more useful tips from Josh Bowen, you can find daily posts from him on Urban Active's blog.    

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pittsburgh First Grader With No Hands Wins Penmanship Award

Last Wednesday, Annie Clark,   a Pittsburgh first grader born without hands won a penmanship award and a $1,000 dollar prize for her handwriting skills! The seven year old won the first Nicholas Maxim Award from educational publishing house, Zaner-Bloser Inc, which is given to disabled children with exceptional handwriting skills. Annie attends Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin where a ceremony was held for her award.

Her father, Tom, was interviewed by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and said, "She can ride a bike. She can swim. She is just determined that there is nothing she can't do." Her parents, Tom and Ellen Clark, have nine children: three biological children and six adopted children from China, one of which is Annie.  Four of the adopted children have disabilities, which Ellen says didn't happen by choice, rather by God's will.  

It's refreshing to see such a positive story in the news, especially one originated in Pittsburgh! This is such encouragement for everyone because it really shows that anyone can truly do anything, no matter what their circumstances are.   

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Look Of The Day": Emily Blunt Opens Tribeca Film Festival With "The Five Year Engagement"

Emily Blunt has our "Look of the Day" from her premiere of "The Five Year Engagement" at the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City (April 18). She's wearing a gorgeous emerald green and black Jason Wu design and bright pink lip color. Last night marked not only the world premiere of Emily's new movie (also starring Jason Segel), but the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival.  

What Is Love? Is It Only Found In A Relationship?

by Sarah Davis
Plato once mentioned that human beings originally had four arms, four legs, and two faces. In his story, Zeus worried humans were too powerful in this form and split them in half, leaving all humans beings searching for their other half for the rest of eternity.  

Life has a lot of lessons.  You have a lot of days, peppered with mistakes, valued lessons, and triumphs.  As I get older, I see that these major life lessons pop up and you only really know the value of them once you've seen it, lived it, cried about it, and learned from it.  The biggest one being this idea of love.  First off, let me point out that the film industry has really battered the concept of love.  I think people are out there believing that love is elsewhere. Love is on, love is what other people have, love is only found in the home of a newly married couple who have just purchased a new home, or love is only found in someone we have never even met before (i.e. "One day, I will meet my soul-mate.") All of these things are false. Love is inside of you.  At any moment of the day, you are walking around with a lot of love (or potential love) inside of your own soul.  Other people can never take the place of this major part of who you are.  This is a really big lesson that I've taken in and learned over the past year (particularly, in my pursuits of Style & Wisdom and writing a self-help book.)

Love covers a lot more area in life than strictly finding a "soul-mate" and marrying them. Love is what is happening when you stop worrying about your flaws, love is what happens when you meet your baby for the first time, love is what happens when some guy asks you for fifty cents on the street and you treat him to a dollar.  Love is what is happening when you chase your dreams, love is what happens when you  take care of your body and when you help other people. Love is what happens when you encourage other people to be happy.

I think that a lot of the good stuff in life can get lost in this idea of hunting for the perfect relationship and brutally torturing yourself with the breakups that come along with relationships with people you were only with because you were desperately hunting for a relationship.  Life requires a lot of soul maintenance. This soul maintenance needs to be done by you and it takes time.  There are a lot of false and tempting things in the world that you might think you need to chase after, like this false illusion of a soul-mate.  This chase sucks up your energy and you start to deteriorate. 

When you begin to not feel "whole", remember that you are.  You are equipped with what you need in every single second of your life.  Any time that you are laying around crying because a "great love" didn't work out, remember that great loves DO work out.  Learn from what didn't work out in the past and actually use that as a tool for your next relationship.  

When you're not praying, eating healthy foods, making sure you're laughing every day (sounds silly, but a vital part of a healthy soul), meditating, doing things that scare you, you aren't as healthy as whatever else is sucking up all of the energy from your soul. For instance, worrying about a relationship that is already doomed and you're well aware of it, you just worry about it because it feels less scary than being alone.

So, the next time that you feel like you need to find some "missing part" of your soul in order to feel complete, happy, or loved, remember that Plato wrote a fictional story.  You are whole (inside of a relationship or while you're single.) Love comes from inside you.  

Photo Credit: Planet Blue

Beauty Spotlight: Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain

by Sarah Davis

This past weekend, I tried out Revlon's Just Bitten Lip Stain and I have to admit, I love these! Lip stains are really great if you want to wear a dramatic color because not only do they not come off when you eat or drink, but there is no need to continue reapplying every five minutes. The Just Bitten Lip Stain literally stays on all day and the whole time that you have it on, your lip carries such a bold color.  All that you have to do is apply the clear balm that comes with the stain for a little shine. I only have one of these currently (I chose the coral color "Flame") but I am definitely considering buying a few more! Maybe a few more subtle colors that I can wear to everyday affairs.  Oh, maybe I will just purchase the whole line!

Photo Credit: here

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tupac Shakur's Coachella Hologram Rumored To Be Going On Tour

by Sarah Davis

Coachella is always a big deal.  Although, this year in particular, it seemed like more of a celebrity fest than a chance to hear really good music from all of your favorite artists. The most talked about performance, by far, was when Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog performed "Hail Mary" with a hologram of Tupac Shakur on Sunday. The hologram, created by Digital Domain Media Group, became an internet sensation the very next morning. The performance was created solely for Coachella and was not created from any archived footage.  

Personally, while some said it was uncomfortable or creepy to see the rapper, who passed away nearly 15 years ago, perform, I thought his movements were very video-game like and animated. My reaction aside, since the hologram is such a sensation, it is rumored to be going on tour.  Would you go see a performance from Tupac's hologram? 

Image Credit: Getty Images

Urban Active Fitness Presents: "I Can't Squat"

by Josh Bowen of Urban Active Fitness

If there are any trainers that read my rants you can sympathize with me on the following statement made by a client, “My doctor told me not to squat.” Oh he did, did he? Well isn’t that great, what in the world am I going to do to strengthen your legs? Hold up! Do me a favor and get up and down from that chair. So you know what I am getting at. There are some uneducated people out there that tell patients to stay away from certain activities, not realizing that those activities could potentially help the situation. I've incurred this situation several times in the 8 years I have been a trainer, nothing surprises me.

The squat is the most basic, primal movement that humans do. We squat when we get in and out of a car, we squat when we get up and down from a chair and when we have to go to the bathroom (#2 for men and always for women) we squat. So how on earth could someone tell me that I can’t squat? Most doctors are not as educated on fitness and it impacts the body, so its easy to tell people what to stay away from. If you have a bum knee its probably not wise to load a bar up with 300 lbs and go at it. But what doesn’t make sense is why you wouldn’t perform the movement at all, without weight.

Have you ever looked a baby and how they sit back on their heels and drop their butt to the floor in a full squat? The point I am trying to get at is humans were meant to squat, in some shape, form, or fashion. It’s true so you cannot argue.

So how does squatting benefit me if I have knee problems? Well let’s first look at your “knee problems.” More often than not (general statement here) the problem is not your knee. Huh? Yes, the problem often stems your ankle or your hip causing the pain to occur in and around the knee capsule. This is called “site VS source.” The site is not always the source of the problem. So if you have hip issues or ankle issues, proper squat technique can actually realign the body to its correct movement pattern. Also becoming more flexible in the hip flexor and hamstring area will help as well.

Here are the benefits of proper squatting (bodyweight progressing to weighted):
  1. Neuromuscular coordination- squatting (weighted or bodyweight) will train the brain and the muscles to work in harmony. If you have trouble squatting correctly place a box or bench behind you and sit back and touch and explode up.
  2. Lower Body Strength- no exercise (no exercise!) builds strength better than squatting. Everyone needs strength, whether you are a stay at home mom or a professional athlete, our lives demand a certain amount of strength.
  3. Injury Prevention/Rehabilitation- To prevent injuries you must make sure the body can handle and create force. Squatting allows the body to build muscle and strength required of everyday life. Also, allows the body to become flexible in the lower extremities (cause of a lot of injuries).
So, in conclusion if your doctor tells you not to squat, so him my article and have him call me. I will convince him otherwise.

Yours in Fitness,

Josh Bowen will be joining Style & Wisdom every Monday for the next few weeks for a series of blog posts about obtaining maximum fitness results.  Josh Bowen has been the Quality Control Director of Personal Training at Urban Active Fitness since 2007 and has trained and directed 400 trainers in 7 states.  Josh has certified trainers, proctored hundreds of seminars and conference calls, and contributed to ten published articles about fitness.  His mission is to spread the word of fitness to as many people as he can through personal training with a motto of "train, motivate, and inspire!" For more useful tips from Josh Bowen, you can find daily posts from him on Urban Active's blog.    

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kendall Jenner Follows In Her Sister's Footsteps With A Swimsuit Photoshoot

Kendall Jenner, the 16-year old half-sister of the Kardashian sisters, is making quite a splash these days! She released images she took for Flavor Magazine, a Paris-based fashion magazineon her blog yesterday, modelling swimsuits.  Kim Kardashian even took to sharing the photos on her own blog, writing "I love the whole look with the slicked back hair, the gorgeous swimwear and the incredible views from the Goldstein House. So proud of you, Kendall… my little super model!"  We can't help but notice how absolutely stunning Kendall is (and agree with Kim)! It's almost as though she is following in big sister Kim Kardashian's footsteps...

Photo Credits: Sinisha Nisevic/Kendall Jenner

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Closes Season With "Coppelia" (Review)

by Chris Steele
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's "Coppelia" (Photo by Rich Sofranko)

In its final piece of the season, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is performing the classic ballet Coppelia running this weekend April 13-15 Downtown (Pittsburgh) at the Benedum Center. While the story and music date back to the mid 19th century, the whimsical, playful banter between it’s lovers Swanilda and Franz can translate to any generation, old or young.  PBT’s portrayal of this classical tale has a life and vibrancy that is perfect for a family night out or a date night with a loved one.

The ballet opens in the village square where Swanilda and Franz (played by real life husband wife duo Alexandra Kochis and Christopher Budzynski) are trying to show the other their affection.  Swanilda’s bravado leads them into a sort of dance off, trying to one up each other, perhaps Franz is trying to impress, but Swanilda is just having fun with him.  Suddenly, a peculiar young girl catches his eye from Dr Coppelious’ workshop.  This only stews Swanilde’s feistiness and curiosity.  When Dr. Coppelious carelessly loses his key, Swanilda and her bevy sneak into his workshop to investigate.  Unbeknownst to her, the old man returns shortly thereafter.  To further complicate things, Franz later sneaks into the window to woo the young girl.  Act two takes place in Dr. Coppelious’ workshop.  Swanilda and her friends discover the young girl is just one of many life size toy robots.  When the doctor returns he chases the young women out, but our heroine hides in the closet with the beautiful young robot. Perhaps out of spite to her betrothed or just because she is that mischievous Swanilda dons the clothes of Coppelia and plays a bit of a ruse on the old man.  Hilarity ensues when the doctor gets Franz drunk (shortly after Franz proclaims his love for Coppelious’ toy robot) and attempts to use a spell to steal Franz’ life essence and give it to Coppelia.  Swanilda (pretending to be Coppelia) takes this opportunity to have fun with the old man. Ultimately the young couple get married and everyone lives happily ever after.

A strong supporting cast of dancers provides nice commentary around the Swanilda and Franz.  Nurlan Abougaliev (Heinz) was one that caught my eye. He had fantastic form and showed some great athleticism in both his leaps and his footwork.  The cast of Swanilda’s friends were also enjoyable to watch.  While the program may not have had a name for each young girl, I guarantee that each dancer had a name and back-story for their persona. Characters like those become a window dressing for the leads, productions that give each person on stage their own life breathes a life into the show itself.

Integral to a good production of Coppelia is a likeable, adorable Swanilda. Her character breaks the mold of the classic ballet female.  When compared to the leading ladies from Swan Lake or other classic ballets, her independence and feistiness is in stark contrast.  Furthering the importance of a Swanilda that the audience enjoys and is rooting for.   Kochis’ portrayal was a perfect fit.  Immediately annihilating the fourth wall, her smile brings the audience into the palm of her hand.  A fantastic sense of comedic timing is not something one might expect from a principal dancer, but hers was without a doubt “on pointe”, utilizing slapstick gesturing that fit right at home with the forced prospective and almost Commedia feel of the piece.   Humor aside, Ms. Kochis’ form and discipline was both mesmerizing and inspiring to watch.  In the closing moments of the ballet, Swanilda turns, in pristine form, like a porcelain ballerina on a music box.  My immediate though was that every little girl wants to be that priceless heirloom spinning on her mother’s music box.  Watching her spin, on pointe, for what seemed to be an eternity and yet somehow could never be long enough… brought my biggest smile of the night.

The plot is simple and timeless, as are the characters, which leaves a lot of room for a production to inject it’s own personality and vitality.  PBT projects, through this show, that they have a fun, whimsical corps that is willing to take down the staunch view that ballet can be stiff and boring.  At no point, however, do they compromise form, elegance, or technique.  Instead they instill a fun, playful atmosphere into a professional package.  This show is a smile waiting to happen.  I recommend you stop by and find yours.

Style & Wisdom also featured an interview with Alexandra Kochis earlier this week about her role as Swanhilda.  If you missed it, it's available here

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interview With Alexandra Kochis About Her Role In Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's "Coppelia"

by Sarah Davis
{Alexandra Kochis and Christopher Budzynski rehearse for Coppelia.  Photo taken by Aimee Waltz}

Style & Wisdom: Tell us a little bit about your character in Coppelia, Swandhilde?
Alexandra Kochis: Swanhilde is a bit different from your average ballet heroine in that she is an incredibly vivacious, feisty and independent woman.  She takes matters into her own hands and isn't just waiting around for her Prince Charming to arrive.  She and Franz are young sweethearts who, though they do care about each other, aren't quite sure how to express it yet and neither wants to be the first one to take the plunge and say how they really feel.  So instead they tease each other and compete with each other, always trying to out do one another.  It's a really fun role to play because there is lots of challenging and bravura technique but you also really have to build a complete and believable character with enough depth that the audience will feel something for her and her predicament.  This is something I especially enjoy incorporating into my dancing.  

S&W: For those reading who aren't aware of this particular ballet, can you give us a brief overview?
AK: The ballet of Coppelia tells the story of two young lovers, Swanhilde and Franz, who are still in that phase of their relationship where they don't quite know how to express their affections for one another yet.  They tease each other, compete with each other and try to make each other jealous.  One morning in the village, a new girl appears on the balcony of Dr. Coppelius' house.  He is the somewhat eccentric old inventor/toy maker in town.  Swanhilde tries to introduce herself to the new girl who ignores her and continues reading her book.  Franz spots the new girl while no one else is around and tries to catch her eye, as she is quite attractive.  What no one realizes is that the beautiful new girl, Coppelia, is really an extremely life-like doll that Dr. Coppelius' has made.  And thus the stage is set.  Swanhilde catches Franz trying to woo Coppelia and gets jealous.  Unbeknownst to each other, they both decide to break into Dr. Coppelius' workshop and find out just who this girl is.  While Swanhilde is in the workshop with her friends they discover that Coppelia is just a doll but Dr. Coppelius arrives home and shoos them all out save Swanhilde who hides in the closet with the doll.  Just then Franz sneaks in the window to try to find the "beautiful new girl" but Dr. Coppelius is ready for him.  After Franz explains that he is in love with the mystery girl, Dr. Coppelius gets the idea that he will drug Franz and, through a series of spells, capture his essence and bring his beloved Coppelia doll to life.  What Dr. C doesn't realize is that Swanhilde has dressed up in the doll's clothes and when he begins to work his "magic" bringing her to life, it is really just Swanhilde having some fun with him.  Hilarity ensues and there is a happy ending for all, culminating in a wedding for Swanhilde and Franz.

S&W: Coppelia is described as a comedy.  PBT just recently did a production of the very intense, A Streetcar Named Desire.  Do you find that it is easier to be serious on stage or play a tad more fun role?  
AK: I don't know that one is easier or more difficult to play than the other since, in both instances, the big challenge is trying to create a believable character that the audience can identify with in one way or another.  In playing a more serious role you want the audience to be able to see inside your character- their soul and their motivations- so the audience can feel something towards your character, be it empathy or hatred or whatever.  While in a comedic role such as Swanhilde there is a lot of timing to work out, both with the music and physically with the other characters on stage.  Both approaches are challenging but it's a big part of what I love about dancing story ballets.

S&W: How long have you been with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre?
AK: This is my sixth season with PBT.

S&W: When you're not dancing, what could we find you doing?
AK: During the season we are kept quite busy but I relax by cooking with my husband (fellow PBT principal Christopher Budzynski), or taking walks in nearby North Park, we also have an occasional friendly poker night some weekends.  And once the season is over we really love to get outdoors.  We hike, camp, kayak, and sail.  This summer we are planning a sailing charter to St. Maarten.  And I would like to say I golf although I am hopelessly out of practice. 

Alexandra Kochis
S&W: I read that you are working with your husband in this production? Does your real-life relationship make your on-stage chemistry easier or harder?
AK: I love working with Chris.  We know each other so well that you can be frank and to the point about a lot of things while you are working and there is also that deep sense of trust there that is extremely comforting on stage. And with a ballet like Coppelia, we can incorporate a bit of our own personal relationship dynamics into the mix.  I think we do have a little friendly competition in our relationship so, we can work off of that.  We also both love to pay very close attention to the music and try to let that inform a lot of our choices as far as timing and character so, in that sense, it is easier to make our performance more seamless.  Of course living and working together can get a bit trying at times but we've gotten pretty good at balancing the two.

S&W: What are some of your favorite things to do in Pittsburgh?
AK: I enjoy an afternoon exploring, shopping and eating in the Strip district with all it's various ethnic restaurants and markets.  I love taking walks in the many city parks and really enjoy all the amazing areas that are so accessible just outside the city like McConnells Mill State Park, Moraine State Park and Ohiopyle State Park.  Chris and I will drive out there to camp, kayak, play disc golf or hike.

S&W: This is the last performance from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre this year, what can we expect from you in next year's lineup of ballets?!
AK: Next year is really exciting because we will be performing one of my all time favorite classical ballets "Giselle" in the fall, we will be doing a production of "Moulin Rouge" which will be new to me so I am looking forward to that and to working with the choreographer Jordan Morris who brought his production of "Peter Pan" to PBT this season.  The mixed rep for next year is exciting because it includes a ballet "Lilac Garden" choreographed by Anthony Tudor.  I have never had the opportunity to perform any Tudor works so this will be a real treat.  And this is just a sampling of things that are in store for next season. You can see a full description on our website

S&W: Finally, I'm always at Whole Foods and I always see the Barre dancer snack/nutrition bar and was surprised to find out that another principal from PBT actually created this.  
AK: We are all so proud of Aaron and Julia (the creators of Barre).  What they have done in starting their own business is truly remarkable ... and delicious!  I am definitely a frequent customer.

"Coppelia", presented by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, plays at the Benedum Center from April 13-15.  Tickets are available at  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why We're Obsessing Over Stella & Dot Trunk Show Parties (Plus, Enter To Win Stella & Dot Jewelry)

by Sarah Davis
Are you looking for a fun way to bring all of your girlfriends together on a Friday or Saturday night?  I recently came across the most brilliant idea ever, thanks to a Stella & Dot rep that I met, Chris Kale Corcoran: which is a party with food and drinks and tables of jewelry to purchase from, all in your own home! Brilliant, right? Shopping for jewelry online can be difficult because you can't try anything on before purchasing and shopping in a store can be intimidating because you feel major guilt if you have the lady pull something out of the case to try on and then need to politely decline.

Stella & Dot trunk shows are steadily becoming more and more popular these days.  A Stella & Dot rep comes to a party that you've planned for your girlfriends, they set up tables and displays of their fabulous jewelry, and you shop in the comfort of a closed home.  In case you haven't heard of Stella & Dot, they have affordable, fun jewelry that is worn by celebrities like Kelly Ripa and Kim Kardashian and have been mentioned in Vogue.  There is literally no piece of jewelry that I wouldn't like to have.  

If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I suggest that you meet with Chris Kale Corcoran, who is the number 1 Stella & Dot sales rep in the area.  Some of my personal favorites from Stella & Dot are the Bianca Tassle Necklace, which is by far, my favorite piece! It is $138. Also, the Serenity Necklace ($198) and the Pegasus Necklace ($198), which was recently spotted on Kim Kardashian.  If you are looking for a few more affordable pieces, Chris suggests:

Chantilly Lace Chandelier Earrings ($49), Capri Chandelier Earrings ($49), Goddess Teardrop Earrings ($34), Panther Pendant ($49), Toujours Bracelet ($34), and the Serpent Bangle ($49). The Panther Pendant was actually featured in Vogue's October 2011 issue.  

One more thing! Chris is offering a fantastic giveaway! You can win a Toujours Necklace & a set of Toujours Earrings! 

To enter the giveaway:
1. Like Style & Wisdom AND Chris Corchoran's Stylist Page on Facebook.
2. Comment below with your answer to the question, "How would you or how do you style your own life?" Be sure to leave your name (that can be matched up with your Facebook page).  We will contact you through Facebook if you have won. 

You must complete all three steps in order to be entered into the giveaway.  The winner will be announced on April 25, 2012. 

If you are interested in contacting Chris to set up your own Stella & Dot trunk show, you can contact her at  

If you are interested in becoming a Stella & Dot stylist, there is an event that anyone can attend on April 14, which will inform you of some amazing career opportunities that might be the perfect fit for you. You can see more info here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bethenny Frankel Discusses Her SkinnyGirl Daily Line With Style & Wisdom (Interview)

by Sarah Davis

Bethenny Frankel is one of today's top entrepreneurs.  She is a best selling author, creator of the SkinnyGirl franchise (which started off as a low-cal Margarita), and even stars in more than one popular Bravo reality hit (the Real Housewives of New York City and her spinoff series, Bethenny Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After.) Behind the cameras, Bethenny has always been a natural foods chef.  Prior to signing on as a Real Housewife, she had her own natural foods bakery and delivery service, Bethenny Bakes.  In 2009, she launched the SkinnyGirl Margarita and she wrote her first book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself of Dieting.  Since 2009, SkinnyGirl has grown to become a household name and is much more than just a low calorie alcoholic beverage.  Frankel has launched a SkinnyGirl skincare line and more recently, a line of dieting products called SkinnyGirl Daily. On a recent episode of "Bethenny Ever After", she even announced that SkinnyGirl is working on a line of shapewear. She created SkinnyGirl Daily with Matt Hesse and the line includes a gentle daily cleanse, vitamin packets, supplements, and even 200 calorie delicious nutrition bars. With Bethenny's background in healthy eating and food itself, it was only a matter of time before she launched a successful diet supplement line. 

SkinnyGirl Daily is extra impressive because they don't aim to help you lose weight, they aim to give you more energy and make you feel better and in turn, help you to lose weight because you have more energy to do it properly. Bethenny recently chatted with us about these products and even how she incorporates them into her diet.  

Sarah Davis: I love that your Cleanse & Restore is all natural, especially since some of the cleanses on the market are full of harsh chemicals.  What sort of process did you go through when creating this product? How much of the creation of these products were you involved in?
Bethenny Frankel: I'm involved in the creation of everything with the Skinnygirl name on it. Skinnygirl Daily On-the-Go Cleanse and Restore Packets are not harsh whatsoever and can be taken every day. It aids our body to cleanse naturally every day by removing the bad and leaving the good.

SD: What I also personally love about the Cleanse is that you can still eat, which makes buying the product a little more welcoming (as opposed to say, a strictly juice diet.) Talk to us a little bit about eating while using this product? Any tips?
BF: Like anything else this varies from day to day and with every person. If you really need a jump start, eat a vegetarian diet, reduce dairy and eat lots of greens. For more intensity eat just fruits and vegetables for a day or two. For me, I use a packet every day in my water and I eat regularly. This means a fairly balanced diet with some sweets and a few cocktails a week with occasional bigger splurges. Some weeks I'll use 2 packets a day. You can choose whether you really need to "cleanse" or just to "keep things moving."

SD: What Skinnygirl products do you use every day?
BF: Every day I use a Skinnygirl Daily cleanse packet and I try to use a Skinnygirl Daily vitamin power packet- either for immunity or relaxing depending upon the day(there is a variety of packets with different effects). I use the Skinnygirl Face and Body Firming Body Wash every day and the Vitamin C Face scrub, the Detox Mask and the Vitamin C Body Scrub a few times a week depending upon my needs.

SD: Forget about dieting for a minute, what is your favorite meal? Is it okay to splurge every once in a while on a meal you love?
BF: I splurge all the time (probably every day) but that doesn't mean a binge. I'll eat a few bites of cake or a dessert or french fries or whatever I want. I really love pizza, I love a good hearty breakfast and I love eggplant parmesan. I like variety and I don't believe in deprivation.

SD: Okay, so, we've talked about how these products work along with a balanced diet and exercise routine.  Can you tell us what your typical daily diet is? 
BF: There is no typical day for anyone. As I discuss in "Naturally Thin," days are like snowflakes and no two are the same. Your diet is a bank account. Try to invest wisely and balance it out.

SD: What is your favorite way to exercise? Cardio, yoga, weights?
BF: Vinyasa yoga and beach walks. 

SD: What is one of the most common mistakes that women make when going on diets and how would you suggest we fix them?
BF: I believe that diets are a mistake. Women need to learn how to indulge rather than how to deprive. I dieted for most of my life and was 25 pounds heavier. The minute I learned how to stop, I unleashed my skinnygirl permanently. Read "Naturally Thin"-  it is a life changer.

SD: Why is health & nutrition so important to you? Why was it important to start a line of products like these for busy women? 
BF: Health doesn't have to be challenging. We can make it easy and affordable and convenient and incorporate small steps every day. 

SD: The Skinnygirl Daily On-the-go-Bars are so delish! What is a good way to work these into our diets? Meal replacements, breakfast, post-work-out snacks? 
BF: They're just the perfect snack to throw in your purse for that hunger that creeps up on you. Sometimes you just need that sweet satisfying snack that you feel good about.

SD: Which of the bars is your personal favorite?
BF: Dark chocolate multigrain pretzel.

SD: Let's talk alcohol. Is it okay to have a few drinks here and there when dieting and trying to drop weight? What are your thoughts on this?
BF: I do think we should be able to incorporate cocktails into our diet rather than unrealistically deprive. Depending upon the day, if you want a cocktail, eliminate that sweet or piece of bread or potatoes. Your diet is a bank account. You decide what to include and what to reduce. Every day will be different. Me, I like a Skinnygirl cocktail and there is no guilt about it.

SD: Finally, what are your words of wisdom for any woman out there who is looking to lose weight?  
BF: Let go. Don't diet. Food isn't your best friend or your enemy. You aren't "good" when you starve and "bad" when you overeat. NEVER binge. Indulging is ok. Binging is emotional. Don't eat from emotions.

For more information on SkinnyGirl Daily, please visit
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