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Barefoot Country Cavewoman đŸŒ˛

The last couple of weeks myself and my kettlebells have been communing out in the great outdoors. I’m incredibly blessed to be living in the country, and to step outside and hear nothing but singing birds and see nothing but tall Georgia pine trees all around me. It is wonderfully therapeutic, and I’m usually barefoot (I read somewhere that grounding is woo, but I am a believer!) and most often with my kids. One of my favorite things about kettlebells is that the flexibility of a workout allows for me to train while being with my toddlers!

Deadlifts & Babies

I also love using my kettlebells in the living room. I have a cold, so last night instead of doing swings I did joint mobility, floor press and glute bridges with a 12kg bell (for the bridges I place it in my crotch 😉), following by sidelying adduction. Who says you can’t build strength whilst sick, lying on the floor? And while the children watch ‘The Little Mermaid’.

Today was a nice day and I walked around outside barefoot while my kiddos swung on their swing set, and did 16kg deadlifts and single sets (1 each arm) of rows.

I’m easing back into a daily practice and feeling strong! Pavel says to quit before you’re tired, but soon enough I will be ready for a challenge, so I have downloaded “Kettlebell Complexes Made Easy” by Taco Fleur of Caveman Training. I’m excited to dive in and try some complexes, as I’m ready for a body recomp! Complexes are the best way to shred my winter fluff and get my heart strong and healthy 💓 while getting strong af simultaneously.

Please check out Caveman Training Magazine, for the best kettlebell workouts! Here is a list of all kettlebell exercises for the hardcore caveman or cavewoman. Kettlebells are by far the most versatile, efficient, and FUN tool for any fitness enthusiast!

#kettlebellsforever #kettlebellissima

Auf Wiedersehen!


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I’m back, Baby!

I can’t believe it’s been almost 7 years since I’ve written a post for this space!! So much has happened in the interim, and I’ve made so many excuses, for too long. I want to write and to share my experiences and it’s time. Writer’s block, depression, slow rural internet, and switching to using my phone rather than a keyboard have been stumbling blocks, but I’m ready to leap over them and out of that comfort zone I spoke of in my last post here!

Rather than write an entire update, I’ll probably tell the story of the last seven years in different posts. I will say that I’ve moved from Texas to Georgia, been micro-blogging on Instagram over at @kettlebellissima since December 2018, and I’ve had 2 children since I last posted, a sweet baby girl April 2016, and a wonderful son March 2017 💕

The title of my blog is ever so much more meaningful now, as my personal evolution has taken so many twists and turns, and never stops. I have taken a break from training and “dieting” to regain a more positive attitude toward myself and my body. I post about orthorexia, diet culture dropout, and self acceptance on my Instagram.

I’m ready to tackle my bells with gusto in 2020 and get stronger than ever, mind, body, and spirit!

Auf Wiedersehen 🙏🏾


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Other heroes: Elliott Hulse

Yesterday I shared about my OBSESSION with Bret Contreras and everything he’s ever written about the glutes. I totally forgot to mention my other go-to guy for anything related to muscle: Elliott Hulse.


I subscribed to “Yo Elliott” not too long ago and am so happy with all I’ve learned from watching his funny, insightful vlogs. He is a strength coach, family man, self-proclaimed “strength geek”, and a guru, in my eyes. He gives pretty darn good life advice (I think on a seperate channel); I especially liked the episode where he explained how his marriage and his family, and his commitment to them, made him a stronger human being.

But on the strength side of things, he is an incredibly smart guy as well! I recently began deadlifting a barbell for a new challenge in my lifting routine. (Post coming soon about how I came away from my kettlebells to explore some other strength practices!) So I watched Elliott’s four-part ‘The Science of Deadlifting‘ manifesto, and then went to the gym and set a PR, just like that.

My PR last week, 170 pounds at 125 bodyweight.

Top Ten Things I’ve Learned about Lifting & Life from Mr. Hulse:

  1. When you lift something, imagine you’re pushing yourself down into the earth, rather than lifting the object up.
  2. Use your butthole! Elliott expounds on the benefits of using the age-old technique of sphincter-tightening for power. Next time you’re trying to lift something heavy, clench it up!
  3. Increase your intra-abdominal pressure for increased stability and strength.
  4. Wear the right shoes.
  5. Train your central nervous system. “Strength is function of your nervous system,” says Elliott in his awesome video, “The Truth About Building Strength”.

6. Train the way you know is right for your goals and body, and fuck what anyone else thinks!

7. Think outside the box in the gym and in life, and build your own experience and success.

8. Balance your parasympathetic and your sympathetic nervous systems, by prioritizing rest, digestion, nourishment and water to counter the stress of training, life, and stimulation of the adrenals.

9. Posture is extremely important, and so is balancing your body, before you can become stronger. Address problems in your body’s basic functioning by focusing on mindful mobility, stretching, and corrective exercises.

10. Don’t be afraid to take one step forward and two steps back. Elliott has been a competitive strongman, but recently changed the way he trains and eats to become leaner, because he knew this would make him even better. He talks about how it is difficult to lose strength, and let go of that version of himself, and to me that’s the true meaning of evolution: Accepting and embracing change, by stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis in the name of personal growth.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Jacqi 🙂

EDIT: I forgot another important tip I got from Elliott on youtube, and it has been an enormously successful one for me: Taking a fasted walk first thing in the morning is a great fatburner! I now walk a mile and a half at 6:30 am everyday to catch the bus, instead of waking up early and going down the street, and start my day off on the right track for my goals of getting lean and staying strong.

Confirmation Code: GFXHFDCN111941263

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Stay-Home Saturday Training Log

Saturday Training at the Gym/Pool with my seven-year-old daughter 🙂

25 pound dumbbell step up 3×6 each leg

35 pound dumbbell clean + ass to grass squats 3×6, 40 pounds 1×6

35 pound dumbbell walking lunges 3 x 4, 40 pounds 1×8

35 pound db deadlift 3×12 40 pounds 1×8

20 pound dumbbell renegade row 2×10

80 pound seated low row 2×10

double 40 pound dumbbell glute bridges 2×10


triple tabata (24 rounds of 20 seconds 100% effort/10 seconds recovery) including :

  • ninja jumps
  • split lunge jump
  • 20 kg 2 hand kb swing
  • alternating 20 kg clean
  • squat-tap-taps
  • fast skiprope
  • high knees
  • box jumps

Celeste’s WOD:

10 pound lat pulls 1×4

5 pound dumbbell bench press 1×5

pushups x 3

rebumbent bike 5:00

clowning around NONSTOP

Here is a funny video of my step ups, where the camera fell over. Happens all the time!

Sorry for the sideways video! I’ve rotated it and for some reason it’s still effed up…

Most of posts will probably just be training logs from now on, for the time being, as I am stretched at work, attending online college, and still momming it, unschooling it, trying out a new gym and walking/bussing all over Carrollton and North Dallas.

My daughter told me today, “Mom, I really liked working out today! I think I want to be healthy all the time.” So rewarding to hear, considering I don’t tell her how to feel or to exercise, or eat a certain way. She’s my shining star, and my inspiration.

Auf Wiedersehen!



Bret Contreras, My Hero!


I posted this picture on my facebook today to show my progress in building my perfect backside using advice found on Marianne Kane’s blog, MyomyTV.com and in various articles by Bret Contreras and Christine Beachamp (supergirl powerlifter). After more than a year of focusing on glute training, fat loss, and getting stronger overall, this is the result. The video below is me before implementing exercises like glute activation drills, glute bridges, adduction, hip thrusts and bird-dogs. I’m wearing the same pants…Mind you, I looked like this in 2011, then I put on weight a couple of times between then and now, and got chunky in the behind. My ass had a droopy, lumpy shape I just did not like a whole lot.

I also attribute my hip and glute development to a pretty consistent and (I think!) well-rounded kettlebell practice. Your hips get a great workout driving a nice heavy bell. Before this video I was doing my Jillian MIchaels ‘Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism, Tae Bo, running (or trying to, with my weakish glutes), and yoga/pilates. I got nice arms, fat loss, some ab definition, but a shrinking booty. I knew I had to find something better if I wanted to maintain the bigger butt I was used to having (I store fat there amply, also in the belly and thigh regions)!

I read Dispelling the Glute Myth and have been following Bret Contreras’s work ever since! Super happy with my results! I’m now in the glute hypertrophy and strength phases, and trying new things like barbell training (deadlifts and squats), barbell glute bridges and hip thrusts, and weighted adduction and hip extension exercises. Training this way is so fun, and a good fit for me. I can zone out in the gym by myself, deadlifting away for hours. I seriously don’t ever want to leave before the hour and a half mark!

Bret and Marianne have recently teamed up to start the Get Glutes Online Training System, which I cannot wait to try. Bret also wrote a new book with Kellie Davis, called “Strong Curves” that I would like to read. Thanks so much to these two, and all the other great fitness writers online giving people great advice to counter all the absolute garbage that pollutes the internet when it comes to fitness and health and science.

Auf Wiedersehen!


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Borderline Personality Disorder and Over-training

I’ve identified a big problem with my exercising. Finding my kettlebell lifting bliss is a double-edged sword, in that it’s fantastic that I’ve found something I love to do that keeps me fit, but I like it so much that I tend to burn myself out and over-train.

It took me awhile to admit this pattern to myself, but it’s apparent when I look back at blog posts and workout logs I keep sporadically. I get so jazzed up, especially when just a week of kettlebelling gives me almost immediately visible results. It’s also really fun and invigorating, and helps regulate my mood. I am addicted to working out!

I should also mention that I struggle with a few different mood disorders. I have borderline personality disorder and have had major depression in the past. I also have anxiety and anger problems, with a history of alcoholism, which runs in my family. Being active has literally saved my life. For the most part, I am able to keep myself sane and balanced just by walking, playing with kettlebells, yoga, and a sensible diet. I still have days when I feel paralyzed by self hatred and lethargy, or days when I can’t seem to do anything but cry, and this actually happens in a pattern that corresponds with my menstrual cycle. Basically PMS really fucks with me bad. But a good, intense, short kettlebell workout always makes me feel on top of the world.


I am toying with the idea of going gluten-free for a week or so to see if it helps me minimize the occurrence of mood swings even further. But the thought makes me anxious, so I have it on a back burner. I keep telling myself that when my food budget increases I can make even better choices, but I need to work with what I’ve got. I’m thinking about allowing myself potatoes and rice, but no wheat or gluten, and still stay eating on the same schedule I’ve been doing, which is Carb Back Loading style.

This is related to my original problem of over-training because my BPD (borderline personality disorder) causes me to act very impulsively at times. So if I get on a lifting kick, I will do kettlebell work all day long, or do 2 or 3 workouts in a day. Or work out 3-4 days in a row too hard. Then I will hit a wall and not want to do anything, and start to experience low mood. Maybe tweaking my diet will help me be more balanced in the way I approach my kettlebell practice. I know that such sporadic intensity is not a good thing, and I sometimes injure myself by overdoing it.

I also plan on trying to use yoga and meditation to help me stay in touch with the present, and in tune with myself, which are both are things that are affected by BPD.

Today I did a nice kettlebell workout outside, that was just jumproping sandwiched with sets of cleans, windmills, swings, single-leg deadlifts, and goblet squats. Little bit of everything! 🙂


Me, high on endorphins and feelin’ fine.

Tonight I’m making some braised cabbage (recipe from Nom Nom Paleo) and chicken legs. Both recipes make a lot, so I can have some to take to work for a few days’ lunch. I find it much easier to stick with my plans when I have lots of options ready to go in my fridge, like hard-boiled eggs, meatballs/patties, and steamed broccoli.

Auf Wiedersehen!


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And now for something completely different…

I promised I would talk more about Carb Back Loading and I plan on doing just that, but I want to make sure I can write a clear, thoughtful, and scientific explanation for people who are curious. So I need to do more research, and take a little time. My writing is also rusty with under-use. Gotta dust the cobwebs off of my communication skills, as I mainly converse and interact with three-year-olds!

Worked my central nervous system out just trying to get this photo!

Worked my central nervous system out just trying to get this photo!

 Today is just training talk. I am still slinging kettlebells and walking like a mad woman. I have found that the quickest commute to work happens to include a 1.4 mile walk. Which is fine by me, cuz it gives me a chance to amp up my fatburning in the A.M. when I am fasted. I walk for about seven hours per week, at around 3 mph. I eat a little something with my kiddos at work at around 11:15/11:30 am (usually hard-boiled eggs, sliced turkey, meatballs, or a low sugar whey protein drink), then train kettlebells a few times a week at 12:30/1:00 pm.

I am re-reading “Enter the Kettlebell” by Pavel Tsatsouline and on Thursday I incorporated part of his Program Minimum Plan into my training. First I practiced military pressing 16kg and did some heavy windmills and then 5 minutes of turkish get-ups. For 15 minutes I did 10-12 kettlebell swings with 20 kg (44 pounds) then jogged a hundred yards or so, then repeated. I definitely felt the burn, but it was a pleasant session. The jogging was slow n easy, barefoot runnin in the grass, for active recovery from the swings, which I did do with a good, hard level of intensity. It was a very nice day and I really enjoyed myself. Here are a few videos:

Kettlebell Military Press Practice

Kettlebell Swing Form Check Video 4-25-13

On Friday I did 10 minutes of heavy 2-hand swings with my 20 kg, 30 seconds work/30 seconds rest. Then I did a total of 50 goblet squats with the same bell, broken down into sets of 8-10. Then I did my butt workout, which consists of kettlebell glute bridge, bird-dog, and side-lying leg adduction. I was distracted and emotional on this day, but the sweat helped a lot.

Saturday I played around with kneeling kettlebell overhead presses and taped it. I practiced my turkish get up and got quite a workout trying to take cool pictures of myself with my bells (see above)! My heart rate went up everytime I posed until I got it right. Then I performed a 10 minute workout called “Sinister” by Tracy Reifkind, kettlebell goddess. You can try it yourself on youtube! It is no effing joke. My arms were smoked after!

Kneeling Kettlebell Press

“Sinister” 5-10-15-20

After Sinister, I went and ate some free pizza at my apartments’ office, because it was finally 6pm, and time to eat. I don’t know what got into me, because after I ate and talked and socialized for a bit I wandered over to the gym to play with dumbbells. I wanted to try something new so I did dumbbell bench press, using 30 pounders. Here’s the vid:

Dumbbell Bench Press

Today is Sunday…..and I love Sundays. I wanted to do something high-intensity, so I was going to do my sprints. Somehow I couldn’t get excited (imagine that) about them, so I did a little research on Dangerously Hardcore and found a new method to try for my HIIT (high intensity interval training). I did the recumbent bike, alternating 2 minutes of easy pedaling with 1 minute of all out 100% effort, repeating 6 times for a total of 18 minutes. HOLY HAMSTRINGS…my heart rate never got under 120 the entire duration, and my buns were feeling the “love”. Going to be doing this again. After that I jogged to the park and did some chin up practice, then jogged home. Here are my chins:

Chin Ups

I came home and did some nice, relaxing, body-opening yoga with my favorite yogi, Baron Baptiste (on youtube). Here is the video I followed. I felt so calm and peaceful afterward…I think my next goal is to add 20 minutes of yoga per day, followed by 5 minutes of meditation.

Flow Practice to Prepare for Meditation with Baron Baptiste




Finding my “Diet” Bliss

My diet has undergone some radical changes lately, and I owe many of them to two websites in particular. Dangerously Hardcore  and Beautifully Hardcore are fantastic one-stop resources for all things related to heavy lifting paired with selective carbohydrate intake. Keifer is the creator of Dangerously Hardcore and author of the books “Carb Backloading: Manual for Total Body Fat Control” and “The CarbNite Solution.

You could call my new regime “The Everyone Thinks I’m Crazy Diet”. Or the “Eat Pizza, Cookies, Ice Cream, and/or Beer and Still Look Smashing Diet”. Or the “Easiest Diet in the World.”

I say that bearing in mind the fact that I don’t believe any one way of eating or training is best for everyone, or even a lot of  people. It’s very personal, food and health is. I never preach about food, even though it is a passionate subject to me.

When I first came to pay attention to what was going into my mouth (about 9 years ago), the first hurdle was an addiction to sugar that needed to be broken, which was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I like to stress to people that when I began this quest for a fitter body I was almost completely uneducated about what to eat to slim down. I thought that eating salads, carrot sticks, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese were good eating habits, and that you needed to avoid fried foods, avoid alcohol, avoid meat, and avoid sweets to lose weight. This was the blueprint you had to follow, and on top of all that, you also needed to eat 5-6 small meals per day, in order to keep your metabolism running. I still like string cheese, salad, and carrots, but now I see food as a drug that signals chemical changes in your body, and I’m more aware of the importance of things like timing, quality, and quantity, in addition to just food selection.

I did eat frequent small meals when I was first losing weight, but I don’t anymore. I think that trying that probably stimulated my then sluggish fatburning mechanisms, and was helpful to me as a heavier person. But now I practice intermittent fasting so I don’t have to eat a low-calorie, crap-ass diet. I simply fast, and then eat what I like during a smaller window. I seek out healthy, high-calorie foods nowadays, as I need a lot of energy to do my training and daily walking. I’m finding that pretty much everything I thought was a hard and fast rule about nutrition is much more flexible that I believed.

I believed back then that if I woke up and did not eat within an hour, even after I had lost lots of fat and had a healthy, effective metabolism, my body would go into “starvation mode” and suspend all fatburning posthaste. This simply isn’t the way it works. Your body burns fat as you sleep, and when you eat breakfast, it stops. It starts using your breakfast for energy instead. My body is full of energy (food) when I go to bed, so I am not starving the next morning, I’m still working on using the food from the night before. You can then do a kickass heavy training session in this fasted state and burn even more fat! But I usually eat something with a lot of protein around 11 before I train, so I end up fasting around 14 hours total, including my sleep.

I also thought whole grains, peanut butter, and fruit were my friends as a newly healthy eater. I’ve discovered problems with consuming all three of these foods regularly! Peanut butter often contains trans fats from hydrogentated oils(although I’m seeing many more natural options). Whole grains are still high in carbs and carbohydrates are addictive, as they are sugars. Even a low glycemic food still triggers an insulin response in your body, and I have found that eating carbs willy nilly just is not an effective strategy for me. Same goes for fruit, it is sweet, and it creates a change in your sugar level. I only consume a large quantity of carbohydrates on a day before I’m doing heavy kettlebell lifting and only after 6:00 PM, when my body is less responsive to insulin output.

Practicing the principles outlined by the website Dangerously Hardcore (run by DH Kiefer) has helped me find the perfect way of eating for me and my goals. I want a hot body, not too skinny, with curves. I recently came to the conclusion that I am an athlete, but I am first and foremost a bodybuilder. I hate labels, but I am trying to build a certain type of body that I find appealing. I want a giant booty, flat tummy, little jiggle, and an overall strong look. Like a fitness model but with a little more “va-va-VOOM”! Look at this sexy beast:

Alex Navarro, my carb backloading hero!

Alex Navarro, my carb backloading hero!

Alex Victoria Navarro practices Carb Backloading and Carb Nite, the other eating strategy proposed by Kiefer on DH. If it gives her enough energy to compete in the Ms. Fitness America pageant and makes her look like this? I am IN. She blogs on DH also, and is a talented fitness writer (my hero!).

It may sound crazy, or like a scam, but I approached it with an open mind, and I am impressed with the results. The reason this works so well for me is that I am inconsistent. Sometimes I’m able to stick with something like Paleo, or am able to not consume any dairy or grains for awhile. Sometimes I enjoy baking muffins, pies, and cookies from scratch with my daughter.
Sometimes I like making a delicious pasta dish or eating a nice big baked potato. Food is a wonder to me, I love to cook and bake, and I simply don’t like any restrictions. So I don’t have any anymore, I just use common sense with few rules. Here they are!

1.) No carbs before 5:30-6pm.

2.) No food before 11:00am. My breakfast is plain, black coffee with grassfed butter melted into it.

3.) Start the day with a long, fasted walk. (Picked this fatburning tip from Elliot Hulse, a fitness guru I am in love with…)

4.) Frozen/prepackaged/restaurant food only once a week. Usually this is pizza on grocery shopping night. Otherwise
we eat a whole foods diet at home. EAT REAL FOOD.

5.) No vegetable oils, no soybean oils, no rapeseed oil, no canola oil, no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats.
The fats I eat are animal fats (like bacon grease), grassfed butter, avocado, whole eggs, olive oil (not for cooking, just for
flavor on veggies or on pasta), coconut oil, and nuts like almonds. I eat fat pretty liberally.

6.) No dairy, I just can’t handle it.

Here is an article on why butter and bacon are not your worst enemies, and why you should eat real food, from Real Food University.

And here is an article about a study of the effects of red meat and bacon on mortality and health.

And here is information on IF, or intermittent fasting. The leading expert on this, in my opinion, is Brad Pilon, who wrote the book Eat Stop Eat.

So in closing, keep an open mind when it comes to health advice, because I have found that a lot of what I thought was right was wrong, especially for me. I have changed my mind about most of the things I used to consider non-negotiable as part of a healthy lifestyle. I have completely changed the way I train, for the better! If I hadn’t been open to these new ideas I probably would have lost interest in becoming my best self, because it just would have seemed too hard, to have to eat a restrictive, low-calorie diet and do repetitive, boring workout DVD’s forever.

It seems “too hard” to most people I talk to. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not as hard as you think, and it starts with the will to change, and the willingness to experiment and try new things.

The biggest obstacle to changing your body and your life is negative self-talk. Your self, your brain, whatever you want to call it says, “I can’t do this, I can’t do that, there is only one path to success, and I can’t stay on it. I don’t like this, I can’t eat that, I won’t try this because of X, Y, Z.” The volume on that voice needs to be turned all the way down to mute, and you
just need to do it, try it, change it.

Finding what works for you is key, and finding out for yourself what is the best choice is critical. Don’t believe everything you think you know about health and fitness, do the research, seek out the alternatives, find what gives you the results you desire and makes you feel strong and healthy. Trial and error have gotten me to where I am now, and I am pleased with the outcome!

my carb backloading/training results 4-27-12

my carb backloading/training results 4-27-12

My next post will go into more dirty detail about why this specific diet is such a good fit for me personally, and will include some training talk. Right now I am running on some butter coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon fat, and spinach, and am ready to play with some kettlebells!

Auf Wiedersehen!



putting in some work, lunch break-style

I was going to take it easy today and do some classroom work on my lunch yesterday, but somehow whenever I say that, I end up really sweaty!

I repeated this 3 times (told myself to do it twice then got amped and went for the triple!).


-10 goblet squat – 20 kg

-10 figure 8 – 25 lb

-3 stand-kneel-stands right hand 20 kg

-3 stand-kneel-stands left hand 20 kg

-10 2 hand swings 20 kg

-10 kettlebell glute bridges 20 kg

-5 snatches each arm 25 lb


Followed by 10 rounds of heavy 2 hand swings, 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off.

Followed by some ab vacuuming exercises (which I will write about soon).


I didn’t get much actual work done, but I felt really good after. I then devoured a plateful of meatballs! I am so happy by back is all healed up and my swings feel euphoric. 🙂

Happy training!


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New Year Update

Started back training with my trusty kettlebells on the first of the year and trained so hard I done went and hurt my back. Have lots of new videos of my progress this year (was lazy for most of December and ate a lot of trash) on my youtube channel. I overdid it and definitely felt it.

With my newfound determination to be Russian Kettlebell Challenge-ready by next year, I went to Dragon Door, the best kettlebell resource I know of, to look for someone in my area certified in RKC. I found Christian Washington and his gym, Paramount Strength & Conditioning right away, read a favorable review for Mr. Washington and went to check them both out. How lucky was I that the gym was having an open house tonight!  I got to meet him in person and show him my 2-hand swing and turkish get-up with an 8kg kettlebell. How great to get such invaluable feedback! And positive too. 🙂

Here are some pics of my friend and I deadlifting 135 pounds tonight. I am 130 pounds right now, and this is my first heavy-ish deadlift, ever! So awesome! The gym was so nice and the people were incredibly friendly and helpful. I would recommend it without hesitation to anyone & everyone.

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Paramount has a program that just launched this month called Beauty by Barbell, and I am really excited to try a class! I have been wanting to get my hands on a nice, heavy barbell for quite a while now, and I think this might be the right place to give it a try!

Really happy to be eating healthy again and working toward my goals, feels good.