Feb 13, 2015

LOVE Challenge and Dance-filled Day

Special Message: Love Spreading Challenge! 

And while you're spreading love, give love and dance to yourself today and always! XO - Megan

Warning: the following is a self-indulgent, feel-amazing playlist for your life, NO PARTNERS NECESSARY.  Choose your favorites, then rock it solo or among friends!

Warm Up Traveling: Honey Love, Franky Valli and The Four Seasons

Warm Up Isolations: (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, Jackie Wilson

Disco/4c Hustle: Get Up Offa That Thing, James Brown

Samba: The Best, Tina Turner

SQQ Rumba/Tango: A Night Like This, Caro Emerald

Disco/Samba/Rumba/Paso Doble Mix: Touch, Natasha Bedingfield

Slow Cha Cha: Moment Just Like This, Dami Im

Med Cha Cha: Love Natural, Crystal Fighters

Lindy Hop: Get-Together, Tim Myers & Serengeti

Slow Salsa/Tango Stretch:  Love Like This, Natasha Bedingfield, Sean Kingston

Cha Cha/Jive Mix: Before We Fall In Love, Damato
Mix: We Could Be Kings, A.R. Rahman and KT Tunstall

Viennese Waltz: The Blue Danube, Manhattan Pops

Slow Samba: You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

Cool Down: Love Someone, Jason Mraz

Spunky Cool Down: Something I Need, OneRepublic

Which love-spreading things or dance songs will you share this weekend?  Let us know!

Jan 18, 2015

Love, Music of the 60s, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. moved his generation with a deep and demanding love, particularly song artists.  In honor of the emotional and lyrical depth of those artists, here are a few of my favorite dance songs from the 1960s.

LaBlast Music of the 1960s

Megan Merchant, LaBlast, UNMOne Fine Day - The Chiffons (1963), Quick Step

Be My Baby - The Ronettes (1963-1946), Rumba

 These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding (1962-1964), Rumba

May we turn our dreams of love into action.  Then dance, together. - Megan 


Dec 28, 2014

Four Steps to Finding Your Tribe

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. - Seth Godin

I've been in the fitness industry for around 15 years, passing through many locations, instructing diverse populations, always loving these people and places.  But over the past five years, I began witnessing colleagues really gravitate toward specific fitness groups: Les MillsBeachbody, Zumba, TRX, Crossfit... and I had huge envy watching them become deeply passionate and fully ingrained into these groups.  They found their tribe.

This finally happened to me at IDEA 2011 when I came across LaBlast Fitness.  The feeling of connection was so intense I thought "I have to find a FLAW with this program or I'm in it for life!"  Fast forward to today as a new Master Trainer and I feel very fortunate for my LaBlast family and experiences.

Photo by Basil Steele, University of New Mexico, 2014
This is the power of finding your tribe.  Your work turns to passion; you look forward to being involved.  Your tribe makes what you need to do in life (like being physically active) so much better.

How to find a Tribe that fits You

1. REALLY listen to yourself: what do you enjoy?  My husband loves cycling.  My sister found yoga.  My daughter's teacher adores her daily run.  And my friend loves her two daily hours at the gym.  I love dance but LaBlast also gave me variety, authenticity, use of my own music, the option to dance with my family and friends, and much more!

2. Trying A LOT of new and varied things.  Keep narrowing down who, what, where, and when might fit you until you strike gold.  You can browse the myriad of my blog posts on fitness trials I have had.  Around 2012 I enjoyed watching others enjoy Zumba, so a wrote an article and held a Zumba charity event for colleagues at UNM.  My husband still enjoys a few Beachbody programs we starting trying several years ago (and despite it not being my fit, those programs are REALLY fantastic!)  In 2011, I researched and practiced running to team up for a marathon but all of these activities felt unnatural.  In contrast, I really look forward to time I spend dancing LaBlast.

3. New tribes start everyday!  Among 6 billion people in the world, your tribe is either waiting for you or should be created.  In a very short time and now at 800 global instructors, our LaBlast tribe feels so happy that Louis Van Amstel took the time and effort in creating our program.  Other tribes are equally as grateful to their group innovators.

4. Be in more than one tribe, because: 

 A tribe is a group of people that share an occupation, interest, or hobby. -

Every tribe in your life will vary in the amount of time and level of interaction.  LaBlast is my physical activity tribe that grew to enhance my occupation, intellect, and more, but I keep jogging, meditation, strengthening, and self defense in my fitness routines.  My coworkers at UNM inspire me to strive higher for our students.  I have a group of mom friends that share parenting stories and emotionally support one another in beautiful ways once or twice a month online.  You can have more than one tribe in various areas of your life, such as your:
  • environment: your location and surroundings, home, neighborhood, community, state
  • career: your occupation versus your career and your finances
  • social relationships: your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors...
  • emotions: your feelings about actions, events, and life in general
  • spirituality: your positivity and/or religious beliefs
  • intellect: your education and ongoing pursuit to learn new things
  • physical body: your nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress, and overall health

Which tribes will you look for this New Year?
Wishing you love and happiness in all areas of your life!
XO - Megan

Nov 8, 2014

Four Cs: Critical Principles within Dance Fitness

When the dance and fitness worlds collide, four beautiful principles come together!
  1. Comfortable:  absence of pain and distress, free of anxiety, feeling of ease and security
  2. Challenge: full use of your abilities and resources during trying but stimulating situations
  3. Compassion: awareness of the needs of others and a desire to alleviate a person's suffering
  4. Confidence: trust, faith, and self-assurance; a belief in your own abilities
What are the senses of comfortable challenges
  • Accomplishment striving and task completion
  • A pounding but slowing heart at the end of a journey
  • Heavy breathing but calm words of "Hello!"  
  • Reaching the final push or lift and striving a bit further
In aerobic activity, this is defined by being able to talk with single words yet you are breathing heavily during repetitive motions like walking, cycling, and swimming.  In strength training, it is the moment when you can perform one more exercise safely before you loose proper form from muscle fatigue during motions such as lifting and pulling. 

Reaching the CC level of intensity in both causes a safe overload: push your body to reach just slightly beyond it's capacity and doing so stimulates the body to grow stronger (muscle strength) and longer in capacity (muscle or cardiopulmonary endurance).  Pushing well beyond this limit at once can burn more calories but raises injury risk and requires a longer recovery period before the next trial.  Some activity is always better than none but I encourage you to give a bit more for greater results.

What do compassion and confidence look like?
  • Rising posture
  • Shining sweat 
  • Glowing yet lifted eyes
  • Radiant smiles
  • Open and welcoming arms
Compassion in dance connects instructors, students, and communities through movement and music.  When a group moves compassionately in sync; physically connects through eye contact, partnering or circling; or simply unites in a display of positive emotion; the experience deepens support, encouragement, and unity.

Confidence is possessing faith in the class you enter when you enter, and growing your confidence during big or small dance attempts will leave you with less fear in your life.  Turn your thoughts toward the similarities between you and other dancers: what is inside matters most, and what is outside becomes an aesthetic of diminished importance.  Engage in every challenge with a positive goal in an open heart and mind.  You will receive so much more.

Want to retain these principles?  A happy child can remind you.

Wishing you comfortable challenges filled with compassion and confidence!
XO - Megan

Sep 30, 2014

The Art of Setting and Achieving High Expectations

The top educators in the world list "Setting High Expectations" as a priority step to reaching great achievements: a belief that WONDERFUL THINGS ARE going to happen to you!  From your first hot air balloon ride, to switching careers, to changing your health habits: aim high to reach high in your life.  Once you set a high expectation, plan 1. Resources, 2. Timed Steps, and 3. Support to move from belief to reality.

Defining Resources, Timed Steps, and Support

1. RESOURCES: The valid, trusted tools and knowledge to reach your goal.  Seek resources that are 1. accurate and 2. level-appropriate. If your resource is convenient but not from an expert or it is from a professional but not understandable, keep searching.  Correct materials at your level are worth their weight in gold!

HOT TIP: When searching online for content, resources, or products, read "Comment", "Testimonial", and "About" pages to get a feel for who the creator is and the type of client the resource was designed for.

2. TIMED STEPS: The timeline and size of steps fit into your life, today!  Although vast changes are a wonderful thought, most if not all daily life changes will happen in small, quick, and simple modifications to your normal routine.  Make long-term changes by repeating those small behaviors over time.

Small example steps are: taking 5 minutes a day to write down daily spending habits, swapping out the yogurt for a cleaner brand on the next shopping trip, and making a call to a local gym to ask about their programs. 

HOT TIP: Keep moving forward by making the steps to your expectation REQUIRED, not optional.

3. SUPPORT: Build a support network of people who have been there, done that.  Seek referrals, ideas, or experience friends, family, and area professionals: their feedback is priceless. 

HOT TIP: Kiss shyness goodbye and ASK professionals the questions you have to build your plan.  Experts are people just like you but simply further along on the same journey.

Example Expectations in Action
High Expectation: "Hey Megan, I'm going to become a fitness professional!"

Oh, wow!  Tell me more...

High Expectation with a Plan:
"Hey Megan, I would love to change careers and become a fitness professional!  I can begin working one-on-one with members at a local gym but here's what I need to do:

The local gym requires an ACE Personal Trainer certification; I looked into it online and the ACE PT Exam materials and testing procedure seem valid (NCCA accreditation) and are broken down into segments that fit my 12-14 week/10 hrs per week available study time.  ACE has email reminders, study guides, flash cards, and live chat support, too!

I can make it work if every Monday-Friday from 6-8 AM if I set my alarm and get going on time, plus I'll schedule in two extra study weeks in case emergencies arise before my testing date, so 14 weeks total to prep.  My super family is going to limit distractions during my study hours.  May I email you once or twice if I have content questions?"

Great goal and those first steps sounds amazing! Absolutely!
The expectation may be a strong belief, but the expectation with a plan changes your reality by developing passion, preparation, obstacle avoidance, plus you will gain supporters along your journey.

Take your high expectation and PLAN for it!  What's on your life list?
Wishing you success beyond your wildest dreams!
XO - Megan