Sisterbear Enters the World on Mother’s Day


Happy Mother’s Day, BB!

Over a week past my due date, I went to bed on Saturday night with my Sunday (Mother’s Day) planned.  I would get up, go on my favorite 4-mile jog route, go to church, then had a few afternoon errands to run.  Baby had other plans.  Around 2:30am, I woke up and felt some mild cramping.  Being that it was the wee small hours of the morning, I thought I was just tired and delirious, wishing and willing the baby would come.  ”Brush it off,” I thought.  ”Go back to sleep.”  I couldn’t.  I was keenly aware of this tiny tinge of discomfort that kept coming about every five or six minutes.  Better safe than sorry, I surmised.  I called my mother at 3am to come over, emphasizing it’s probably a false labor alarm and to take her time.  ”I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!”  She enthusiastically replied.  (She rear ended into another car in her driveway in hot pursuit to make good on that promise!)  My husband and I both showered, shaved, and I even considered flat ironing my hair, but hubs gave me the “c’mon, BB” look, so I grabbed my bag to hit the road.  We went to the hospital where they pulled out a wheelchair to take me up to L&D.  At this point, I could have done walking lunges all the way to L&D, but I do like special treatment- so I made my tush comfy in the wheelchair and took the ride to a delivery room.

First smile

First smile

“On a scale from 1-10, where would you rate your pain?” Asked the nurse.  ”A one,” I replied, proud of warrior-like strength.  Unprovoked, I also offered that I would NOT be requiring an epidural.  ”Ok,” said the nurse, but also mentioned that the anesthesiologist was not at the hospital and would need to be called to come in, if I changed my mind.  I assured her I would not be changing my mind.  At this point, they had checked me and I was dilated to 6cm and 100% effaced; I was in labor.  This was going to happen!  I was giddy with excitement.  I grabbed my iPhone and began my birthing playlist.  As a 90s Country fanatic, I had faves like Joe Diffie’s “John Deere Green” and David Lee Murphy’s “Party Crowd” pumping through the speakers, rocking that hospital room!  We weren’t halfway through the second song on the playlist when labor got REAL!  Real, real!!  The contraction pain went from null to “crap, crap, crap, crappety crap, crap” very quickly.  Those little devils stockpiled on each other, too.  Not only was I in mind-blowing pain, but as soon as one would end, another would begin.  No one should ever have to endure this kind of pain- EVER!  ”Epidural!  Please!”  I gasped between breaths.  Oh yeah, there was that thing about needing to give anesthesiologist time to get to the hospital from wherever his home was.  I’m convinced he, too, must have chosen to take a bath, shave, and flat iron his hair.  No pain meds, my water had broken, and the head was coming out.  ”Don’t push if you want an epidural,” said the nurse.  She checked my dilation, and I was now beyond the 1-10cm scale.  I was at a +1.  The baby was coming, ready or not.  At this point, the contractions were so strong that pushing wasn’t something I could hold back.  Involuntarily, my body was pushing that head out.  Bloody murder was I in pain!!!  Unspeakable pain!!  I had wanted this.  It was exactly the birthing story I had hoped for, and at 5:56am, the baby arrived.  We found out the gender: it was a girl!  Welcome to the world, baby Julie Anna!!

Rest, beautiful baby

Rest, beautiful baby

Oh my goodness, I loved her- and love her deeper each passing moment.  But a GIRL!  The world can be so tough on girls.  Mothers can be so tough on girls.  Life can be so tough on girls.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have to volunteer as a Middle School coach, just so she’ll have backup to handle all the cliquish little bitches.  In high school, if any pimple-faced boy thinks he’s going to steal my daughter’s innocence, I will beat him with what we in the kettlebell world know as a “beast.”  A 105.6 pound kettlebell is a beast.  I will go after him with the anger of Mamabear, armed with the ammo of a beast.


I may now have a spending problem on all things "pink."

I may now have a spending problem on all things “pink.”

After school, when she’s trying to live her dream, I want her to make the world better in whatever way she feels gifted and called, but, Lord, don’t let her be a fitness model.  I love my work as a fitness educator, journalist, and spokesperson.  I am blessed by all of my opportunities to help show people what’s possibly by adhering to a fit lifestyle.  Image is always going to be a part of that.  The dehumanizing part happens when the photograph of a physically fit female is not seen as a fit woman or inspirational human being.  The person, herself, is reduced to a sex symbol.  I hope to take jobs and project my image, socially, in ways that inspire people but keeps my humanity, and, indeed, promote fitness and change lives.  Mamabear has learned how to brush off objectification, but should anyone dare ogle Sisterbear, claws are going to have to come out.  (I see now why Nanabear had her own reservations over my choice to walk this path.  It comes from a place of protection).  IF little Julie Anna decides she wants to positively impact the world through some other trade or industry, I would take a sigh of relief.

I want to wake up like this every morning, forever!

I want to wake up like this every morning, forever!

I hope I raise her right.  I hope I protect her.  I hope she knows she can come to me with anything.  I hope she knows I’m on her side.  I hope she knows my pride in her goes beyond her wildest dreams.  I hope she will talk to me when she has problems.  I hope I can be the mother she deserves.  Thank you, Lord, for the blessing you have trusted me with in giving me Sisterbear: 6lb 9.6oz, 18″ Julie Anna on Sunday, May 14 at 5:56am.  I am truly overcome and enveloped with gratitude.

Papabear, Daniel; Brotherbear, Hayes; Julie Anna and I are all doing great!

Posted in Mamabear by BB | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another At-Home Workout In 10

One just wasn’t enough!  Here’s the SISTER workout to compliment the one from yesterday.  The Express Workout in yesterday’s post was predominantly pushing and power.  This one is predominantly pulling and agility.  Together, they’ll morph you into a metabolically fit machine!!!!

Today is my due date… sure wish this workout would have induced labor!  Baby seems to be enjoying just taking part in the fitness regime in my belly.  Mamabear coming soon!

Posted in Fitness, Strength, & Conditioning, Mamabear by BB | Leave a comment

At-Home Workout in 10

Got 10-minutes, a kettlebell, and a plyo box? Here’s an express workout, sure to challenge every fitness level. It sure showed me, at 40-weeks pregnant, my own strength!

Here’s to the gift of an able body and the determination to use it to its full potential!

20 kettlebell snatches; 10 incline plank to bench jumps. x5.

10-minute Kettlebell & Plyo Box workout from Brook Benten on Vimeo.

Posted in Fitness, Strength, & Conditioning, Mamabear by BB | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mamabear by BB

One week to go until I give birth to baby number two.  I have decided that after baby, I will be keeping a blog on my own, personal, journey as a mom, wife, fitness professional, and deliriously sleep-deprived human being.

Whether you need inspiration for your own bounce back after baby, or just want to follow my story as motivation to get yourself moving on days you’re tired, cranky, and really don’t feel like it, this will be the place to drop by to follow my musings.  The blog will be kept here at with the category “Mamabear by BB.”

Why Mamabear?

I have the sign of a Leo Lion, the might of a Bengal Tiger, and the will of a Mother Bear.  

I haven’t always known my own strength.  Before my 35th birthday, I was passive.  I was a people-pleaser.  I avoided confrontation.  I looked for validation from other people.  On that birthday, one of my nearest and dearest friends, Cyndi Guillot, told me I would not carry that into my 36th year.  YEAH! I would not!  Two weeks later, I found out I was expecting my second child.  In the 9-months of gestation, I have parted with shame.  My addictive behaviors in the past, from exercising excessively to drinking entire bottles of wine to all sorts of unhealthy relationships with food, were all rooted in a deeply seeded feeling of inadequacy.  In the past 9-months, I have grown in so many ways.  My relationships with the people I love the most have grown.  My husband recently wrote me a card that read “you’ve never been more beautiful, sexy, or fun than you are right now.  I’ve never enjoyed your company as much as I do today.  I feel our family has never felt as complete as it does right now.”  We couldn’t have been complete in the past, because I was a fraction of myself.  In these 9-months, I have come into my own.  I am Mamabear.  I will protect my cubs, stand my own, and you can like me/dislike me/unfollow me/write unkind things about me on the internet/or think you’re better than me, but you will not break me.

Here commences “Mamabear by BB.”

Posted in Mamabear by BB | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Musings from a Pregnant Fit Mom

Seven and a half months down, one and a half to go.  This has been, by most standards, an easy pregnancy.  But this post is to keep it real.  I’m a second time mom, so I knew the ins and outs of what to expect with teetering a fit lifestyle and growing a human being in my womb.  I write this for those of you who may be anticipating pregnancy for the first time, or for the first time since you’ve become a fitness enthusiast.  I’ll go on about my personal story, but the takeaway is this: some days you’ll kick ass; some days you’ll get your ass kicked.

For most of this journey, I’ve had the energy to teach classes, lead fitness workshops, chase after a 3-year-old, and go on bike rides and runs!  But I want you to know there are days I just don’t.  There are plenty of days I give my kid an iPad and M&Ms and I sit there, picking from the candy jar with him.  There are plenty of days that I start a run but Braxton Hicks contractions kick in right away, so I have to walk, instead.  Of course, it’s running a half-marathon at 30-weeks that I posted to Facebook, because I’m proud of the good days.  Today, I’m laying in bed at 2pm, and I’m pretty sure by the end of this post, I will have polished off a full bag of gummy bears.  That won’t make it to Facebook.

Half a year ago, I was still fitness modeling; the baby bump hadn’t started to show.  It will be next spring before I’m in that kind of shape again.  It’s not that I gain a lot of weight with my pregnancies.  I don’t, and you probably won’t, either, if you keep exercising and eating reasonable portions through gestation.  But tone and tightness take time and effort to get back… plenty of both, but no amount of effort can beat time.  Doing the line of work I do, I desire to rush the “bounce back” process as much as anyone, but that’s just not how it works. After having my first child, I got back to high impact cardio again too soon.  I ran before I was cleared to… I’d end up with drenched pants as my pelvic floor muscles weren’t strong enough yet to hold in my urine, so I’d pee all over myself but I was too bullish to stop.  I had plantar fasciitis from the volume of exercise I resumed days after returning from the hospital.  Hitting the workouts so promptly after giving birth didn’t get me back in shape any quicker.  I believe I thought they would.  But this, I’ve learned: with devotion to exercise and nutrition, it will happen!  You’re going to live, anyway, you might as well be patient with yourself and embrace wellness, not spite, during the process of reclaiming your fit physique.  That is my intention, this time around.

These are my musings as a second-time fit mom.  I hope that they help and maybe even amuse you in your journey as a pregnant mom and fitness fanatic, yourself.

Trekking through third trimester, jogging the Cowtown Half!

Trekking through third trimester, jogging the Cowtown Half!


Posted in Fit Pro Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Was Lady Gaga “Body Shamed”

The following is my opinion.  Opinions are like birthdays- everybody has one.

Lady Gaga is a thin and fit woman.  When she came out on stage in that opening outfit, a silver leotard, she looked flawless.  When she stripped down to a bra top and bloomers, a small pooch of skin over her britches revealed that she wasn’t.  People took to Twitter, as they do.  The pooch of tummy skin became a distraction for some from her incredible musical performance, complete with Cirque du Soleil acrobatics!  Mentioning the unmentionable (pooch) got critics labeled as “body shamers.”  Has this taken that label a little too far?

Body shaming is what happens to overweight women every day as they shop at the supermarket.  It’s what happens when obese people get laughed at for eating things like an ice cream cone (that thin people do all the time without anyone batting an eye).  It is what happens to men are ridiculed for having a “Dad bod.”  Body shaming is when people make fun of fat people on the elliptical at the gym, who are trying their damndest to do something about it!  That is body shaming!

A thin woman, choosing to reveal her midriff on a stage for millions to see is going to be judged.  The action to strip down comes with the certainty of a reaction.

In a group fitness instructors’ meeting a few years ago, fellow instructors and I were told by the program coordinator, “You can wear a sports bra to teach here.  But if you do, you better be able to rock it!”  In other words, if modest is hottest, dress modestly.  This was the rule for fitness instructors that would teach classes for 15-50 people… not 15-50 million people!  Gaga had the world watching and could have covered her stomach.  She chose not to.  Some people criticized that.  Some people applauded it.  Some said they didn’t notice.  Whatever the response, it is justified observation when you step onto the Super Bowl stage in a revealing getup.

Have compassion for the people who are judged with a critical eye every day without trying to draw attention to their figures.  Those are the ones who are truly “body shamed,” and it is a visceral and sad shame.

Posted in Brook's personal posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Become a Fitness Personality

I get a lot of emails and Facebook private messages from aspiring fitness personalities, wanting to know how to break in. Let me give you the short answer: luck. But getting lucky isn’t happenstance. Luck is what happens when preparation and opportunity align.
To land a stroke of good luck, you prepare yourself by fine-tuning your skills through education, training, experience, and evaluations. Next, you manipulate opportunity by going out and asking for it. If you give up at “no,” you will never get lucky. ‘No’ is the beginning of a negotiation.

First things first: education.
So, you want to be a fitness star. Newsflash: so does every narcissist that puckers up and flexes on Instagram. Ipso facto: “Selfies” was the 2013 word-of-the-year. People are lovers of themselves, and want a platform to make money off of their good looks and charm. I’m sorry to tell you, it takes more than a washboard six pack in your skivvies. Fitness companies want to work with talent that have brains. It doesn’t matter if you look good if you cannot explain exercise physiology. Conversely, if you understand and can explain the body’s response to physical fitness, you can teach people (who have money and buy things) how they can achieve health.
Do you see how this changes the marketability from a “me” perspective (look at me, envy me, compliment me) to a “you” perspective? No one cares what you look like. Consumers want to know how they can achieve a higher quality of life. You cannot teach that just by advertising what YOU did to get in shape. You have to know the science behind exercise and nutrition. If you have that, fitness companies conceptualize how they can turn your looks, smarts, and personality into dollars. BOOM- that’s why they offer you the dough. They give you a rookie shot with hopes that you will return on investment.

So, where should you start? At the very minimum, begin with achieving a nationally-recognized primary certification. A good first personal trainer exam is the American Council on Exercise (ACE) personal trainer certification. The next step may be pursuing an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science) in Exercise and Sport Science. Since many fitness professionals poses those credentials, you may take it a step higher by achieving a Master’s degree in exercise physiology, physical education, or health promotion. If you take it to the tippy top and earn a PhD in this field, congratulations, you will be among the brightest minds in this industry and have the greatest appeal to fitness companies as potential new talent… especially if the genetic crapshoot of good looks fell in your favor, too.

Next step, training!
Isn’t this the same as education? For this blog, I am dividing the two. Education just focused on your base understanding of exercise science and prescription. Training is branching out beyond base theoretical knowledge (education) to being able to practice, preach, and teach a variety of different modes of fitness.
When I first started teaching aerobics in 1999, I told my supervisor that I had no desire to teach anything besides Step Aerobics. She said, “that’s fine, but you’re not going to teach here if you only teach Step.” I probably gave her attitude at the time, but as soon as I finish typing this blog, I’m going to write her a thank you note.

Fitness companies (the relationship you need to make you a fitness star) want talent that can teach with whatever their latest product is. Maybe it’s a yoga mat one month… a boxing bag and gloves the next… a full body strength machine the next. If you pigeonhole yourself to only knowing and training in one mode, your skills set isn’t diversified enough to be very useful when trends change.
You may argue that by learning a variety of modes, you could become “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.” I disagree. If you really want to be a fitness star, you will seek out the best teachers and come up with the wherewithal, time and practice it takes to become a Master of many trades. Look at some of the most successful pros in the business: Julz Arney, Keli Roberts, Petra Kolber, Kathy Smith, Jay Blahnik, Sara Kooperman, Rob Glick. These are people who can teach “V-Step, Roundhouse, Sprint, Power Stroke, Clean, Press, Snatch, Roll like a Ball, Plié, Releve, Namaste,” and be authentic in every one! (Terminology from the following, respectively: step, kick boxing, cycle, rowing, strength, Pilates, barre, yoga).

You have been teaching/training for six months, and you’re googling how to be a presenter. Really?? Gain experience first. Don’t even think about applying to present at fitness conventions until you have ten years of teaching/training experience under your belt. You have to be better than good. You have to be in the top 1% to bode well as a presenter at fitness conventions. Even still, you won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. You need to have a decade of ironing out your wrinkles until you are as starched as a pair of Wranglers on a Cowboy’s butt.

We are blind to our own short-fallings. Ask anyone that’s in the first year of marriage who is harder to live with, themselves or their spouse. 10 out of 10 will say their spouse.

As years go by, our own annoying habits are revealed to us, and we come to realize that maybe we weren’t as peachy perfect as we thought.
We need to be evaluated in order to see what we cannot see. Heed advice from veterans in the fitness industry, participants in classes, and brand new people to fitness (they have no benchmark, which can be a cool thing).
Don’t just ask your friends and family. Remember that kitch Nada Surf song from 1996: “My mom says I’m a star. I’m popular.”

Piecing together your own likes and interests with feedback from evaluations, you can create a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You say you want to be a fitness star. That’s a big net. Try to whittle down to specifics-
An educator at conventions? A workout DVD star for home consumers? A workout DVD star to teach other fitness professionals? (These will be very different). A presenter for an existing CEC company, like Barre Above, CardioPump Fitness, Powder Blue, etc? A leader of your own CEC workshop? A coach for Beachbody? A YouTube sensation? A fitness model? A motivational speaker? A freelance writer? An advisory board member for NIKE? A brand ambassador for Lululemon? A philanthropist? There are so many ways to be a “fitness star.” What is the right fit for you? A SWOT analysis may help you answer that question.

This is where the rubber hits the road. You have to convince someone else to give you a shot. Nobody likes to do this. It’s not comfortable asking for help from people who don’t know you and have no reason to believe in you.

You just have to realize that it doesn’t matter if they think you’re too big for your britches or under qualified, annoying, or crazy. They don’t know you and the only way that their opinion matters is if you work them to a YES. Having a Master of Negotiations, I can tell you this:
You cannot go from no to yes without a maybe in-between, so do not back down after no… work them to maybe. Maybe is yes’s first cousin.


Sometimes, people may come right out and tell you you’re out of your mind; lack experience; or that you’ll never do the things you’ve said you want to do. Before getting your feelings hurt, ask yourself if you presented your proposition as something that would help them, or something that would help you? I’ll be trite and repeat what I said earlier. To get to YES, you must use a “you” perspective, not a “me” perspective.

Let’s look at an example!
Let’s say you hope to become a brand ambassador for XYZ fitness company, and they just happen to have a hot new product out that your gym owns.

If you could call the VP of Sales and say “Hey, I’m ____, a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist. I’ve noticed you will be exhibiting at IHRSA. Your (widget) is the best piece of fitness equipment in our whole gym. May I volunteer to spend trade show hours at your booth and demonstrate some exercises on that amazing product?”

You have a good chance of getting to maybe or YES, because you’re not asking for money, upfront. You would pay your way to get there, but it would pay off because you would have hours upon hours to converse with the decision makers in the company and open doors to future opportunities you wanted all along. The VP would receive your pitch as something beneficial to the company, so you’ve made it appealing for him/her to say YES. You would be well on your way to achieving your dream of becoming a brand ambassador, making money, and living your dream. You did it by taking a “you” perspective.

Here’s the other approach.

If you call the VP of Sales and say, “Hey, I’m ___. I love the (widget). I use it all the time at my gym. I train lots of my clients on it, too. I really would like to be a XYZ brand ambassador. Will you please talk to me about what I can do to become a brand ambassador?”

You have next to next to no chance of getting to YES. “I/me/I/me…” I cannot say this never works (far be it from me to explain the success of the Kardashian empire), but for the most part, people want to know what you can do for them. For the most part, they want to hurry off the call and forget it every happened when they hear pitches with a “me” perspective.

So, before you say that a company disparaged you, be sure that you went about it the right way: with a “you” perspective. If you did that, and they still patronized you, brush it off your shoulder and move on to another company.
Don’t let anyone dim your light just because it’s shining in their eyes.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to understand why you keep getting no. It will feel like you’re on a roller coaster that only goes downhill. You may have to choose: ride the wave, or take another look at your SWOT analysis. Maybe your goal is wrong. Remember that there are many ways to become a fitness star. Re-evaluate.

It may help to hear that every successful fitness star has ridden the roller coaster. When preparation meets opportunity, though, good luck happens. If you’ve done the preliminary work (education, training, experience, evaluation), stronghold opportunity by relentlessly lassoing it.
Paula Abdul’s father told her, “No is just the beginning of a negotiation.” Paula channeled that wisdom on her journey to becoming a Laker Girl, a role that eventually catapulted her to superstardom. In Laker Girl auditions, she got cut time and time again.  Each time she was dismissed, she would change her hair and outfit and sign up to audition again under a different name.  Eventually, she made it all the way through. The next year, she became their lead choreographer.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Good luck!

Posted in Fit Pro Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Years Eve

New Years Eve is my favorite holiday. Most any other night, my evenings are pretty vanilla: dinner, dishes, pajamas by 9. But the conclusion of 365 days warrants ending the chapter with glitz and glamour. It’s a celebration for another year of life and freedom in the greatest country in the world. And it’s a divorce party to remove the noose of remorse for mistakes and losses throughout the year.

2016 is a year many of us don’t just want to finish, but we want to slam, kick, and curse the ever loving door on! New Years Eve is your chance to do it. Do not let this Saturday be like every other night. Live life, or at least Saturday night, to the fullest! Make it memorable… and wear black- it’s slimming, stylish, and suitable for this is occasion: a funeral for all the regrets you’re leaving behind!


Posted in Brook's personal posts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SandBell Circuit

Music is more than a compliment to a fitness class.  Music is the heartbeat of the workout!  Music has a way of motivating people in a profound way that nothing else can.  When I teach circuit-style classes, I like to use an interval timer app (I use Seconds Pro, but there are plenty others).  With this app, I plug in the length that I’d like each station to last, whether I want default beeps or a countdown to switch stations, optional rest period between stations, and use my music library to plug in a different song per station.  The change in music helps alert participants that it’s time to MOVE to the next station- which is helpful, since sometimes they are so fixated on what they’re doing that they miss the verbal cue or the beep to move along.  Here are the song selections that I used for the signature Hyperwear® SandBell master class.

Warm-Up Uptown Funk (Power Music via

Circuit 1

Station 1  Raise Your Glass
Station 2  All I Do Is Win
Station 3 Blurred Lines (Radio Edit)
Station 4  Applause
Station 5  Cool for the Summer (Edit)
Station 6  T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)
Station 7  Payphone
Station 8  Shook Me All Night Long (Power Music via
Rest  Paradise City (Vibes Edition)

Circuit 2

Station 1  Cold Hearted Snake
Station 2 Don’t (Power Music via
Station 3  Get Up/Levantate
Station 4  Let It Rock
Station 5  Overcomer (this station finishes before any Christian references are mentioned, therefore should not be questionable in secular classes)
Station 6  Uptown Funk
Station 7  This is How We Do (Power Music via
Station 8  Out of the Woods (trimmed to chorus)
Rest  Patience (Cool Wave Mix)

Circuit 3

Station 1  Cold Hearted (7” Edit)
Station 2  S&M (clean mix; YES! Fitness Music)
Station 3  Wanna be a Baller
Station 4  Come Get It Bae (Power Music via
Station 5  Uprising
Station 6  I’m Too Sexy
Station 7  Hall of Fame
Station 8  All the Small Things
Cool Down/Stretch  Bring it on Home to Me {or Everyobody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen by SunTan}


The SandBell stations fit in to the following categories: (1) Squat, (2) Core, (3) Cardio, (4) Power, (5) Push, (6) Pass, (7) Row, (8) Rotation.
The first circuit is stable strength exercises.  The second circuit is compound movement patterns.  The third circuit is “all-out” dynamic strength.  The exercises that we learned in the SandBell Circuit master class presentation comprise the prescribed workout that we encourage you to instruct for your first 6-weeks teaching SandBell Circuit.

Any great workout needs to begin with a great Warm-Up.  The intention of the warm-up is to raise the core body temperature and prepare the body for exercise.  The equipment should not be used in this phase of the class, as it is best to avoid adding extra load/weight to the body while we are preparing the tissue, muscles, and joints for exercise.  My own “Essential 8” warm-up takes the body through all three planes of motion in a safe and progressive pattern.  Please feel free to use my Essential 8, or create your own choreography to move your class through body weight exercises in the sagittal plane (think front-back/flexion-extension), frontal plane (think out-in/abduction-adduction), and transverse plane (think twisting/rotation).  My Essential 8 Warm-Up exercises are: 1. Hip Circles (also known as “Hip Hulas”), 2. Frankensteins (standing kick-up hamstrings stretch with arms in front), 3. Egyptians, 4. Halos (also known as “Ribbons”), 5. Rhythmic Glute Stretches, 6. Rhythmic Back Stretches, 7. Lunges (I typically coach lunge backs, as they are less technical than lunge forwards), and 8. Rotational Movements (typically, I just add a torso rotation to the lunge to keep the flow).

The cool-down is a body-weight only series of stretches, using the SandBell and a cushion and prop under the lead hip in the half pigeon stretch and under the sit bones in torso twists and seated hamstrings stretches.  It is a good idea to turn the lights down, music volume down, and speak softly during this portion of class.  Select an inspirational quote or express gratitude from your heart as the sweet finish to your SandBell Circuit class!  Don’t ad-lib.  Prepare your closing in advance.  You need to be deliberate to prevent rambling in this grand finale!



“Good teachers are those who lay themselves down as bridges, over which they invite their students to cross.  Then, after having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”

Posted in Fitness, Strength, & Conditioning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Alicia Machado won a beauty pageant then gained weight. It’s not disgusting. It’s not piggish. Who knows what she was dealing with, besides a bully on her back (obviously). I, Brook Benten, too, weighed almost 160-pounds in 2004, in the throes of a nearly 4-year binge eating disorder (after very restricted eating & over-exercising in college that had me at about 105-pounds). It was a problem that was private, humiliating, and deeply complex. I cannot imagine going through it in the public eye, all the while with a narcissist called me names that the lies in my head already called myself. You all know my comeback story, but not everyone has that. Some people struggle with their relationship with food their entire lives. What they need is compassion… help, not harassment. Donald Trump has had plenty of opportunities to right his insensitive, cruel words from all those years ago with a humble apology. Instead, he keeps hurling insults. That is what I call “disgusting.”


Posted in Brook's personal posts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment