Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cat Chat :: Jessica Diaz - Boston Barre


I don’t know about you, but longer days combined with a balmy Boston breeze have always motivated me to slim down and shape up into a beach-worthy sculpture. But before summer, there’s spring and as we segue into a new season today, I’m delighted to feature a fabulous woman who’s devoted to fitness and thrives on the successes that have flourished from her personal fortitude.

Engage your core. Pull your belly into your spine,” touts barre instructor Jessica Diaz during any given BarSculpt session. Diaz, who splits her time between Charlestown Yoga and Sports Club/LA in Boston, just marked her one year anniversary teaching others how to trim, tighten and transform their torso. And with leading 6 to 8 classes per week plus teaching private sessions, her physique is proof that barre does a body good.

For the past decade, the long-haired brunette and mother of two has been practicing the Lotte Berk Method. This fusion of ballet, Pilates and sculpt has been around since the early 1970s, but has gained momentum in recent years. During her tenure as a student, Diaz trained at the top studios in Boston and among the best names in the business.

Diaz felt compelled to begin teaching after the birth of her second child. Having experienced a less than motivational moment in a class, she immediately knew she wanted to develop a routine as challenging as the ones offered at the popular studios, but with a deeper emphasis on individual fitness levels and goals. “I wanted to take the best of what I learned and combine it with what worked best for me,” Diaz explained. “I also wanted to promote an environment that made everyone feel comfortable.”

A variety of muscle groups are worked to the core (literally) in a 60-minute session. It's challenging indeed, but truly rewarding as body parts you never even knew you had start begging for mercy. Newcomers are encouraged to focus on creating movement from the part of the body being targeted. “You want to feel the area [you're targeting] actually working,” Diaz described. “A second important step is keeping your core engaged.”

Confessing she would have loved a career as a DJ, this music enthusiast shares her love for melody by compiling a killer playlist for each class. I’m convinced it’s the tunes that get many of us through the trials and tribulations of toning our tush, tummy, triceps and other areas too. 

But this busy wife, mother, instructor and secret record-spinner has yet another duty on her dossier, she’s a brand ambassador for Splits59. The athletic apparel brand recently named her a “Firestarter” and in turn Diaz shares feedback on new products and contributes to the company’s blog. I'm always on the hunt for great workout clothes and Splits59 is a favorite,” she said. Tendu Grip Tights are perfect for barre work because they have grips on the bottom of the foot.

A typical day for Diaz starts with coffee at 5:45 a.m. About an hour later, it’s time to move those muscles at her first BarSculpt class of the day. After her morning session, she sends her kids off to school and then it’s time for a personal workout, meetings, appointments and whatever else is vying for her attention that day. “It’s busy, but I love it,” she said. “I have an extremely supportive husband who’s always my partner is juggling our busy life.

Diaz admits attempting to find balance on a daily basis is nearly impossible for her. As an alternative, she opts to structure her laundry list into whole weeks which offers her more control and flexibility. And when it comes to seeking inspiration and motivation, this go-getter who's always eager to add more to her plate draws energy from those around her. I'm amazed by the funny and smart women I know and the positive influence they have on me.

Accomplished women like Diaz who absolutely love their work, welcome new opportunities and are able to harmonize all that’s important in life always inspire me to continue in my personal quest for success and happiness. I’m honored to know her and she’s certainly one to watch.

Jessica Diaz can be reached via Facebook

Monday, March 3, 2014

Favorites from the Oscars Red Carpet 2014

For those who are fixated with fashion and bewitched by beauty (like I am), the Oscars red carpet is the “IT” show for all things luxurious and many times laughable. This isn’t a post about last night’s worst dressed. I try to keep snarky comments to a minimum on this blog. That doesn’t mean I don't share my thoughts on what I dislike (I definitely do). I try to maintain harmony as much as possible because this platform is more of a sanctuary than a soundboard.

Overall, the red carpet wasn't lacking radiance or rushes of euphoria over $20,000 dresses or anything like that. The gowns, in all their glory (and some in their ill repute), were just underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, there were darling d├ęcolletages, jaw-dropping jewels and that irritating mani cam E! seems intent on keeping. But it felt like many celebrities just played it safe. And who can blame them?! They're criticized for things that are too over the top and clothes that are too conservative. And now, on to my five favorites.

I  mean Cate Blanchett doesn't need my two cents. Her nude Giorgio Armani stunner said it all and those opal drop earrings from Chopard were out of this world. This is what a REAL movie star looks like, kids. Cate is one for channeling that timeless je ne sais quoi like nobody's business. And her performance in Blue Jasmine was epic and worthy of her best actress win. Oh, and I must add that my mom called me immediately upon seeing Cate to chime in that her dress washed her out. I, on the other hand, have been infatuated with the the nude/skin overlay look as of late.

Charlize Theron accented her already-brilliant Christian Dior haute couture gown with $15 million worth of diamonds from the legendary Harry Winston. Swoon! I remember the first time I visited a Harry Winston store. Triple swoon!!! This dress was sleek, sophisticated and a statement all by itself, but the drop necklace and studs really pulled it together. You need bold biceps (which she has) for those translucent straps. Meow!

Lupita Nyong’o was perfection (almost) in a plunging Prada gown. The pastel blue was soft and sweet against her skin, while the pleated detail and elongated train were very Grecian goddess. And although I loved her gold and diamond headband from Fred Leighton, I was not a fan of the way it looked with her hairstyle. I'm not quite sure how I would change it since I'm not a hair stylist, but I would have loved to see something different.

Jenna Dewan-Tatum was radiant in Reem Acra (another favorite next to Elie Saab). I don't know what it is with me and champagne-colored dresses lately, but I'm all over them. You could argue that Jenna's dress looked a little bridal (like for the non-traditionalist or second-time-around bride), but regardless it was stunning. The sheer top was so intricate, so feminine and just so beautiful. With similarities to Cate Blanchett's nude number, it was a difficult decision. 

Giuliana Rancic's Paolo Sebastian gown was a stunner. Yes it was princess-like, but like Jenna's dress it was delicate and demure. Unfortunately, Giuliana experienced an on-air wardrobe malfunction when her zipper broke. What's funny is that recently, I contacted Paolo Sebastian's studio in Australia to inquire about a wedding gown. Something like Giuliana's would be killer! I was told all gowns are custom and can be fitted in-person or via Skype. Since I had no intention of making several trips Down Under and would never trust body measurements via Skype, my dreams of a Paolo Sebastian dress are now a thing of the past. After Giuliana's mishap, maybe that's a good thing.

Who were your picks for best dressed?

images via